MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: What is the proper way to preserve a butterfly.

Date: Tue Sep 21 16:23:14 1999
Posted By: David Bellamy, Grad student, Entomology, The University of Arizona
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 937341297.Zo

     Dusty, I am going to assume that you are asking this because you want 
to start an insect or butterfly collection.  Insects make wonderful 
collections because most don't need anything special to preserve them. 
There are a few things to watch out for when preserving butterflies, 

1. Try to keep them out of sunlight.  The sunlight will fade the color on 
the wings.

2. Try to keep them dry.  Moisture or water will grow mold and that’s bad 
for a collection.

3. Finally, keep them sealed.  There are some nasty insects that like to 
eat dead insects, especially those in a collection!  If you cannot keep 
them completely sealed then you can keep a “moth ball” (used to keep 
insects away from clothing and other items) in with your collection.

4. Most importantly, don’t touch the wings!  The color on the wings comes 
from little tiny scales (kind of like those on a fish).  When you touch 
the wings with your fingers, the scales come off.  Your butterfly wings 
won’t look too good then.

     If you can keep those three things in mind when you make your 
collection, then your butterflies will do just fine.  I should add, Dusty, 
that it is actually more fun to collect, observe, and then let go living 
insects than to collect dead ones and keep them in a box.  That way you 
can help “preserve” your butterflies for everyone to enjoy.

Good butterfly hunting,

The Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Peterson’s Field Guide to Insects  (This is a great 
butterfly website with photos and more)  (This is my 
personal favorite site for insects.  If you want to find something about 
go here)

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