Relaxing Jar (Doug Bilsland)

priamus at priamus at
Fri Sep 22 06:59:09 EDT 2000

On Thu, 21 Sep 2000 12:36:53 -0700, in
you wrote:

>I would like to relax some old lep specimens that have been in my
>for some time.  In the past, I've had trouble with molds growing in my
>relaxing jars.  Can anyone recommend a good technique for relaxing
>butterfly specimens.
>Regards, Doug Bilsland

Remove the specimen/s from the freezer, unwrap and leave at room
temperature for 6 - 12 hours. Make up the following relaxing fluid:

10% by volume Methylated Spirits (96% Ethanol)
90% by volume Water

Relax the specimen for 2 - 3 days (depending on size). Don't over
saturate the specimen with moisture; they can be too relaxed and can be
difficult to set. The ethanol kills the bacteria in the air & water,
thus preventing mould growth.

If it's urgent, heat the solution as hot as you can and use a syringe to
inject 5 cc of fluid into the specimen. Hold the thorax between your
thumb and forefinger, head to you. Insert the needle tip at 45 degrees
through the "chest" until the needle tip is adjacent to the wing root
muscles and then slowly commence to inject. You've got it right when the
fluid starts to leak out of the lung vents on either side of the thorax.
It may also emerge from the genital area. Set the specimen as you
usually do.

Option:Carefully, paint a 50/50 solution of PVH wood glue/water at the
juncture of the underside of the wing root and thorax, to ensure the
wings will not subsequently move, due to humidity variation in the
future, then set the specimen as normal.

WARNING: Don't be sloppy with the glue or you might inadvertently glue
the specimen to the setting board! I've done it and it's no fun losing a

Allow 10 days at room temperature & no more than 60% humidity, to dry
the specimen, before removing from the setting board. Then paint the
antennae with the diluted glue solution. It helps prevent subsequent
accidental breakage of antennae.

Chris Hocking

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