Cold to preserve specimens.
Martha V. Lutz & Charles T. Lutz
lutzrun at avalon.net
Wed Oct 11 15:47:15 EDT 2000
Taking a break from a take-home toxicology exam, and this is what I saw on
the leps list:
" The subject here is the long term preservation of adult specimens via
refrigeration. This is presented as general information to everyone.
In the discussion between Linda Rogers and Yo, we considered the
possibility of preserving living adult butterflies via subjection to cold. I
say this works. She says it does not. Well, I have often employed this
method to keep specimens alive for weeks. I learned this technique many
decades ago from some of the "old" collectors who collected adult females,
then kept them alive until suitable host plants were located to present to
the females for them to oviposit on."
My $0.02 worth is that using 'cold' (as an agent of preservation) to keep
specimens alive is peachy. It works.
I have been working with Saturniids since 1988. The adults have no mouths,
so whatever they have 'on board' when they emerge from their cocoons (in
terms of stored energy) is all they will ever have. Left at room
temperature, these adults will die within a week or so of emergence. After
about 3-4 days their vitality (as estimated by the likelihood that they
will fly, given the opportunity and sufficient motivation--like a gravid
virgin female presented to an 'elderly' 3-to-4-day-old male) declines
When I put these adults in our refrigerator within a day of emergence, they
will survive for a month or longer. I have used this technique to hold
males from when they emerge--usually before the females--until there is a
prospective mate available. I have also used this technique to keep adult
Saturniids alive and in good condition for use in K-12 classrooms. A few
lunas have lasted six weeks this way. Ditto cecropias.
Cold works. Don't try it on your mammalian co-vivant, but it works like a
charm on leps and probably lots of other members of the class Insecta!
Martha Rosett Lutz
In Iowa, where many large othopterans are torpid on the sidewalk because of
cold . . .
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