Pickle fork

Mark Walker MWalker at gensym.com
Mon Jan 7 19:46:45 EST 2002

For Thomas LeBlanc:

Ken discussed the intricacies of using forceps and fingers to fold wings
back over the thorax when specimens have clasped them wrong side out.  I,
too, use this exact procedure as soon as possible (preferably sooner than
four hours after they've expired in drier climates) and find it mostly
successful.  For live specimens, you'll find that they pop back into
position quite easily after being provoked (though they may quickly
reposition again just to upset you).

More difficult specimens (as they sometimes can be) require a slight
modification.  I don't personally use pickle forks for anything but eating
pickles.  Instead, I'm thankful to have learned to take the forceps and
gently squeeze the thorax axially - grasping both sides along the horizontal
so that the blades of the forceps are in line with the folded wings.  I
don't know exactly what this releases, but somehow the wings unlock, making
it easier for you to apply the procedure that Ken has already described. 

Drier specimens, as well as those that have been exposed too long to ethyl
acetate, will likely require relaxing - or you will break the wings in your
attempt (you probably don't need me to tell you that).

Good luck,

Mark Walker
Oceanside, CA

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kenelm Philip [mailto:fnkwp at aurora.alaska.edu]
> Sent: Sunday, January 06, 2002 2:40 PM
> To: leps-l at lists.yale.edu
> Subject: Pickle fork
> 	Thomas LeBlanc inquires about the use of the 'pickle fork' as
> mentioned in Winter's _Basic Techniques...._ (on page 240). The actual
> use of that device is described on page 159.
> 	LeBlanc asks: " does the pickle fork go into the 
> envelope or removed
> before it is placed into the envelope?  Does the pickle fork 
> start by going
> over the thorax and up the wing or how does one use it?  
> Finally, would one
> use the pickle fork with live butterflies or only dead ones?"
> 	As is made clear on page 159, the pickle fork is 
> inserted into the
> dorsal side of the thorax while the wings are closed under 
> the specimen.The
> pickle fork is then used to hold the butterfly while the wings are
> reversed over the back and held thus with forceps.  Once the wings are
> up over the back, the fork can be removed--and the specimen 
> is then inserted
> in the envelope with the forceps. This may be done whether or not the
> butterflies are dead, stunned, or alive--but you would not do 
> this with
> specimens you intend to _keep_ alive (as for breeding).
> 	In practice, I have found that if you act promptly enough, small
> butterflies (Lycaenids) can often be 'reversed' without any need for
> anything other than forceps. I put the specimen on my leg, insert the
> forceps between the wings and open them, use my fingers to 
> hold the wings
> open and use the forceps to grasp the ventral thorax and pull 
> the spec-
> imen up between the fingers. The wings will 'snap' into the over-the-
> back position.
> 							Ken Philip
> fnkwp at uaf.edu
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