Light Traps and Killing Agents

Kurt Jacobs morphidae at
Thu Apr 20 22:17:30 EDT 2000

John Grehan  wrote:

> Ethyl acetate can result in oils leaching out of the bodies of moths,
> sometimes many
> years later.

Yes, this is a problem that I have with two of my sphingidae.  These Sphinx
Moths are my only specimens which have developed this problem in 12 cornell
drawers however.  I am not saying the problem is related to the sphinx moth
however.  I believe it may be due to two factors.  1. The two sphinx moths
were still slightly tender as they had appeared to have emerged very
recently.  2.  I believe that they may have been exposed to ethyl acetate
much longer than necessary in the killing jar.  In cases where a common
noctuidae had been overexposed to ethyl acetate,  I never kept the specimen.
The two sphinx moths were so brilliant in color, and my mistake in the
concentration of ethyl acetate or using ethyl acetate on freshly emerged
specimens is dissappointing.  Lesson learned on very fresh lepidoptera, use
the freezer.

In the case of a collecting light trap, the over-exposure of ethyl acetate
would be nearly impossible to avoid.  My experience tells me that if a
specimen in a killing jar becomes wet looking with ethyl acetate, it has a
great chance to remain very dark, once again become very dark due to the
oils in the moth, have matted out hair, and even sometimes look slightly
bleached.  Supposedly soaking specimens in acetone for a few hours will
remove oils, but my tinkering with this technique have shown a reduction in
brightness of color of the scales on the wings.

Kurt Jacobs

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