Insect collection for biology?

I need to collect insects for a biology project and so far I've caught 6 out of 10. The project isn't due until mid-October so I was wondering what would happen to them if I kept them until they were due...also I have to keep them in an egg carton with a cotton ball over them, but would tissue be okay? How does this even preserve/protect them? Will they rot if I keep them out for too long? I know this sounds kind of gross, but it's important. And lastly, where should I keep the egg carton or does it not really matter?

2 Answers

  • ?
    Lv 5
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Most insects are "self preserving". The just harden and as long as something else doesn't eat it or crush it then it will be fine. If you want to keep them soft put them in a jar with a cotton ball soaked with ethyl acetate. That's usually what entomologists use to kill insects and keep them moist until they can be pinned. For ethyl acetate, find a bottle of nail polish remover that says it contains it and soak a cotton ball or paper towel in it and put it in the jar with your insects.

    A cottonball and egg carton should keep the insects from getting crushed at least though.

    Source(s): Entomologist
  • Lisa
    Lv 4
    5 years ago

    You have already gotten some useful answers, but others I disagree with. You can kill insects several different ways, depending on species, size, and other considerations. Butterflies, especially larger ones, can be pinched on the thorax between thumbnail and forefinger. Smaller butts and moths should be dispached in a killing jar. Some insects can be frozen, but you may need to keep them in the freezer for a day or more. They will thaw quite quickly at room temperature, and will gradually become active if you didn't keep them in long enough. You can make a killing jar by pouring plaster of Paris into a jar and letting it dry. Then use ethyl acetate to saturate the material just before use. >>Stay away from cyanide.<< Spreading butterflies requires a pinning board made of soft material (to accept pins), with a groove in the middle to accomodate the insect body. Push a suitable-sized pin (frequently #2) centered and straight through the thorax; center the insect in the groove and push down until the spread wings contact the board. Use the smallest pins possible to gently manipulate the wings so that the forewings' hind edge is perpendicular to the body. Then bring the hind wings into position so that they are spread, but not hidden by the forewings. Push a pin through the point where the two wings overlap at the base to hold them. You can place microscope slides on the wings to hold them flat until they dry. Especially larger butterflies must dry for at least a day, maybe two or more, depending on humidity. This whole process takes a bit of practice and is better attempted on larger specimens at first. Try to include members of as many different families of insects as possible. The **most important part** of your collection is an accurate and detailed label for each specimen. The label must indicate the location, date, and collector. Here's an example of a four-line label: / USA, AZ, Pima Co. / Mt. Lemmon / 23 Aug 2009 / Coll. John Doe /. NOTE: A specimen without a label is virtually worthless! You can find supplies and information on the internet, or perhaps from a university entomology department or museum, or perhaps from a local entomologist. Good luck!

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