How to relax most lepidoptera specimens within 10 minutes

Hi, everyone.

This is a very subjective subject for me to cover as there numerous (and far more accessible) articles on the internet that describe a whole variety of successful strategies to relax insect specimens.

Usually, said articles describe some variation of the most commonly-utilized method: the infamous "Relaxing chambers"; involving some form of moist towels/sponges being placed in an airtight container for a few days, often with a heat source.

While this method is an effective way to relax very small specimens (Lycaenidae) or large, delicate, or hairy specimens (Saturniidae), it can be inconsistent. It might take days for specimens to hydrate sufficiently and they run the risk of getting moldy if not attended to. Thus for someone with limited time and a not-so-limited amount of deadstock, I recommend the following process:

1: Buy yourself some syringes with hypodermic needles. (Don't pick up the ones under highways.)

2: Acquire a papered lepidoptera specimen.

3: Heat up some water in a bowl for 3 minutes in a micowave oven and fill the syringe with water.

4: Gently pick up the specimen with your fingers and insert the syringe into it's thorax; making sure the needle remains inside, and push the plunger. The water from the syringe should "spill" out from the specimen.

5: Inject the specimen's thorax with water until it is soft and pliable (give it a squeeze to make sure). I usually give them 3 or 4 "hits" of water.

6: Using spade-tip tweezers, grasp the closed forewings of the specimen and hold it over the bowl of hot water. Carefully "dip" the antennae into the water until they become flexible. If the antennae are held at an awkward angle (parallel to the FW costal vein), you can use an insect pin to gradually coax them into the water.

7: Place the specimen's thorax on something soft (a wad of toilet paper works well), and use an insect pin to partially lacerate the connective tissues between the wings and thorax in order to further loosen the specimen. Be very careful to "stab" the wing muscles around 2-4 times until they can be pushed downwards at least 90 degrees. Excessive laceration can cripple the thorax, causing the wings to fall off or become loose when the insect is dried.

8: If the both FWs and HWs have the same (or close to the same) level of flexibility as a freshly killed specimen, the relaxing process was a success!

Posted on מאי 03, 2022 07:55 אחה"צ by crake crake


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