methods of killing leps

Martin Hough mothman at
Mon Sep 21 05:30:28 EDT 1998

Hi there Erik-

The best reference I can find in a textbook to this technique is in Brian
Worthington Stewart's 1951 book, "Collecting and breeding butterflies and

The relevant passage is as follows:

"There are other ways of killing butterflies which are less satisfactory or
even out of the question with moths. If you happen to possess nimble,
sensitive fingers you do not really need to have a killing-bottle in the
field with you at all- so far as butterflies are concerned, anyway,
"pinching" is all that is required. During the three or four years that I
was collecting in Morocco and the Norethern Sahara I did not even possess a
killing-bottle. Ninety nine times out of a hundred a butterfly, once caught,
will make the process easy for you.
As you double the net after effecting a capture, most butterflies will fold
their wings together over their backs, flat. All you have to do is to
administer a sharp nip to the underside of the thorax, just where the wings
join the body. Use the nails of your thumb and second (long) finger. With a
very little practice it is possible to killl instantly and without damaging
wings, legs or antennae.

(BTW, I did not have much success with this technique when I tried it
myself- but then I was doing battle with a fairly hefty silkmoth which was
able to put up more of a fight than most of the Rhopalocera!)

Hope this is useful to you

Martin Hough
Uxbridge UK

Per Arne Wahlgren wrote in message ...
>Dear readers of Lepidoptera,
>My name is Erik and I am 13 years old and very interrested in nature mainly
>birding but also butterflies. I have a question, my dad told me that when
>he was young he knew a butterfly-collector who killed the butterflies with
>his fingers. He pinched it in some way? He did not use any chemicals and
>meant that it was better both for the butterflies, they died faster and
>easier, and for the collector, the wings did not get damaged. I wonder if
>any of the readers of this group can comment on this or give any hints on
>how to do this without breaking the poor animal and still put it to death
>quickly. I have not found anything in the books about this.
>best wishes
>Per Arne Wahlgren        Royal Opera         Check out Royal Swedish Opera!
>Torstenssonsgatan 10,II  P.O.B. 16094
>S-114 56 Stockholm       S-103 22 Stockholm

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