relaxing pointers

Shueyi Shueyi at
Thu May 21 11:05:36 EDT 1998

I relax specimens using a technique that I have never heard of elsewhere.
 I wet paper towels and then wring them out as dry as possible - I mean really
squeezed tight and shake off excess water as you wring them out - they should
seem more damp than wet.  Then I reclaim the individual towels from the "wad"
and place specimens directly on top of the towel, then add another wet towel
and so on untill you have a multi-layered stack of specimens encased in towels
(usually about 3-4 layers of towels deep).  Then I seal the stack in aluminum
foil and place it in a warm place - a window  were the sun can hit it or ,
during the winter, next to a furnace vent.  
 This produces in about 18 hours, specimens that spread as easily as if they
were just captured - in some cases, easier.  It works especially well with
large skippers, a group for which I have found no other relaxing method that I
am satisfied with.  If I'm in a real hurry, I place the sealed package in the
oven at 180 degrees F for 4 hours with the same results.  When I was at Ohio
State, I used a drying oven to speed things up.
 There are serious down sides to this method.  First, specimens tend to mold
more quickly than with other methods, and if you foregt about you material for
3 days in this system, forget it - they are ruined.  Also, the direct contact
with water is not appropriate for some groups - I sometimes get small blue
discolorations on pierids and I'm sure it would ruin green geometrids.  And,
if you place field data in with the specimens, certain types of ink will bleed
baddly and get on the specimens.
 The up side is that I can go home tonight, relax specimens and be spreading
tomorrow evening.  Few other relaxing methods offer that quick turn around
 John Shuey

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