Any ideas in preserving insects?

I have this biology project coming up and I have to collect insects, but when I tried freezing them in a ziploc bag, they turned all weird looking, so is there any other way to preserve them, but not make them look like mutated things?

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    There are several methods to killing/preserving insects. I have used acetone kill jars, ethanol preservation and freezing all with great success.

    For an acetone kill jar you need wood chips, duct tape, plaster of Paris, a shish kabob skewer, a mason jar with lid and acetone (you can use finger nail polish remover). Put the wood ships in the bottom of the jar, place the skewer in the wood chips (it will be removed later). Pour the plaster on the wood chips so that is it about 1.5 inches thick. Let it dry then remove the skewer. Tape the bottom of the jar so that if you drop it, it won't break and spill your bugs all over. Now your jar is ready for acetone. Just pour some in the jar and let it soak into the wood chips. Ready to go. When you catch an insect just put it in the jar. The acetone will kill it and it will still be pliable enough to pin.

    When I froze specimens I always put them in a Ziplock container and NEVER a baggie and they were always by themselves. Just remember to let them thaw completely before pinning or you will destroy it. Once they are frozen you can put them together in the same container to save space just make sure to put paper towels between each one so they don't shake around and destroy each other.

    Ethanol is used for larvae or very small insects such as Thrips. Simply put the live insect in it and label.

    When you catch a butterfly make sure you break the flying muscle by squeezing the abdomen first. Don't squeeze so hard you kill it, you will feel a pop then just put it in a kill jar.

    Hope this helps

  • 1 decade ago

    Freezing insects in separate bottles or jars is best for killing insects. Note: Some insects need to stay in the freezer for quite a few days-I've had damselflies re-emerge after 3 days, but this may be rare.

    If freezing makes your specimens warped and/or gooey, then it is too moist in your container (plastic bags could be a problem, because they are very porous). Try adding an absorbent paper in the container or a small amount of silica gel which should be easily obtained. (This is the mystery packet of stuff you find when you buy new things.)

    Some arthropods are best preserved in ethanol of varying amounts. It is hard to obtain high percentages of ethanol, so try isopropanol-it is easier to get a hold of. Bees are easily killed with ethanol. Scorpions, spiders, centipedes and millipedes should be kept in these types of preservatives.

    Many insects lose their color upon death and this is unavoidable. It is best to draw a detailed picture or take a photo of the insect for reference. Make sure to label all your specimens so you can keep them straight.

    Good luck!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Many insects have sufficiently hard exoskeletons that they remain fairly lifelike when desiccated and not preserved at all. You can then mount them on pins to a board (or a styrofoam board!). Put them in a sealed box along with a silica gel desiccant pack, and maybe a mothball to discourage the little beetles that eat dead insects.

    Soft bodied insects, like termites, would have to be preserved in a fluid, perhaps alcohol. The alcohol will become discolored over time, so you'll have to replace it when it does.

  • ?
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

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  • 1 decade ago

    Maybe you should try just taking digital pictures of them? Or you could find a way to freeze dry them... Sounds gross! Good luck!

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