degreasing/green coloration

Andrew Warren warrena at
Mon Jan 14 15:53:08 EST 2002


I have used ammonium carbonate on several occasions.  Overexposure will
turn white Parnassians yellow (a great way to get a state record for
eversmanni!), pink on Schinia to brown, but I have not (fortunately)
observed discoloration in Pierids (or maybe I just havn't allowed them to
sit in the jar too long).  I use ammonium carbonate mostly for my moth
jars (pinch most butterflies).


On Mon, 14 Jan 2002, Richard Worth wrote:

> Thanks muchly to all who replied.  I decided to post a summary here. 
> It seems that it is certainly brought about by exposure to moisture, 
> and is not specific to dead bugs.  Apparently, fumigants have no real 
> effect in the relaxer...I, too, use PDB.  Seems to be removable 
> sometimes.  It sounds like the color is urea.  Is this a by-product 
> of legume and crucifer feeders?... nitrogenous plant compounds or 
> from metabolism?  Soluble in some nitrogen based solvent?  Maybe 
> ammonia could turn the whole thing green!  Any responses by folks 
> that use ammonium carbonate as a dispatcher?  I'll have to try 
> different things.
> Thanks again,  Rich
> >I, too, have only seen this when relaxing.  From what I can tell, 
> >water droplets falling directly on the specimens cause it (don't 
> >know what the reaction is).  The easiest way to avoid this is, 
> >clearly, don't let water droplets get on them, though this is not as 
> >simple as it sounds when using a relaxer.  Degreasing also does seem 
> >to get rid of these spots *some of the time*.
> >James
> >It is probably due to high humidity at packing, which then condenses
> >into a small water droplet when stored, usually in a cooler location.
> >Spots can also appear when relaxing if the humidity level is too high,
> >because of temperature drop in the evening.
> >Cheers,
> >My guess would be urea, as it is the pigment coloration present in
> >Pierids....  It is often seen on the wings of recently eclosed adults
> >before they dry out.
> >M.B. Prondzinski
> >The most serious case of the phenomenon described by Richard Worth that I
> >have seen occurred on a very large Pierid I caught in Rishikesh, Uttar
> >Pradesh, India in 2000.  I relax with only water, so Stan's suggestion
> >wouldn't apply.  The bug was big and white - with black stripes and a slight
> >bluish tint.  I thought I had spilled ink on the wings at first - the
> >blue-green staining ran like water colors.  There was significant
> >condensation in the relaxer, and it was little drops of water that were the
> >culprits.  I hadn't seen this before - at least not to this extent.  It was
> >almost as if the bug was painted, and I was ruining the masterpiece with
> >exposure to water.
> >I have no idea what chemical is responsible, but the secret is clearly
> >keeping the specimen away from condensation.
> >Mark Walker.
> >On one of my first attempts at relaxing I got things too wet by putting the
> >things over very hot water.  Got a bluish green color some.  It looked like
> >the wing got so moist from condensation that soluble pigments dissolved in
> >the moisture and migrated (like paper chromatography) across them wing.  It
> >was much like ink separates into components on a wet piece of paper.  These
> >were done over pure water (well city water anyway) without added chemicals.
> >Barb Beck
> >Edmonton
> >One might try water without ammonia, chloramines, or chlorine.  What comes
> >out of the tap is pretty chemical laden -  unusable as is for fish.  Treat
> >your tap water with something like AmQuel first and see what happens on a
> >disposable specimen.
> >Ron
> >I have seen these spots on worn and tattered (even a few fresh)
> >  pierids in the field in the tropics many times - presumably caused by
> >rain droplets or condensation; so I doubt that using
> >pure water without any chemicals in the relaxer would solve the problem.
> >Andy Warren
> >While this is certainly possible, I tend to agree with Barb - my specimen
> >looked as if the coloration was bleeding right from the wing pigment itself
> >- not with a reaction from the minerals and stuff in the water.
> >Mark.
> >This is just a thought.  If this is something that occurs uniquely to
> >certain groups, Pierids, it indicates a chemical difference from other
> >butterfly groups.  Maybe the chemical(s) that this group possess (that
> >other butterfly groups don't have) react with the fungicide in the
> >relaxer, resulting in a compound that gives the blue-green color. Change
> >the fungicide?  I use PDB, but have not relaxed enough pierids to notice
> >whether I get a blue-green color.
> >Stan
> >I've had this happen particularly with female specimens; I always assumed
> >that I might have pinched a part of the abdomen by mistake, or else
> >over-pinched the thorax. The "leak" from the genital end of the abdomen
> >doesn't seem to become manifest until the wings have been opened up during
> >spreading.
> >and......
> >Yes, it may very well be water droplets getting on the specimen, but I have
> >this happen even with specimen being relaxed inside the glassine envelope.
> >So it may also be possible when water vapor comes into contact with the
> >specimen. But it still seems to happen to me when I overpinch (or maybe it
> >is worse when I overpinch).
> >Alex
> >I asked the same question some time ago, no answers.
> >It looks to me like P. rapae and brassicae are much more susceptible to this
> >than the species from the napi group (venosa, oleracea, virginiensis,
> >melete, bryoniae, ...).
> >I also noticed it on Gonepteryx species, especially the females.
> >If there is a cure to this, I would surely like to hear about it.
> >Guy.
> >Has any body every done any formal research into this?  Like do various
> >gasses  alter wing coloration type of thing.
> >Ron
> >I will try (clothes) dryer water, as that should not contain any ions
> >(chemicals) (or de-ionised water).
> >However I do not expect that to be any better, as also others found that it
> >was the condensation dripping on the specimens causing the greenish
> >coloring - condensation which should not contain the chemicals in the water
> >straight from the tap.  But nobody seems to be aware of a cure ?
> >Guy.
> >----- Original Message -----
> >From: Richard Worth <rworth at>
> >To: <jadams at>; <leps-l at>
> >Sent: vrijdag 11 januari 2002 19:15
> >Subject: Re: degreasing
> >
> >
> >  > Hey group,
> >  > Speaking of green coloration, does anyone know what that blue-green
> >  > staining is that you sometimes get on Pierids when you try to relax
> >  > them?  I've seen it in both those that were relaxed in glassine
> >  > envelopes and those not.  I originally thought it was something in
> >  > the envelopes but maybe not.  I never see it until relaxing begins.
> >  > Is there a remedy?
> >  > Cheers,  Rich
> Richard A. Worth
> Oregon Department of Agriculture
> Plant Division
> rworth at
> (503) 986-6461


   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit: 

More information about the Leps-l mailing list