Friday, January 25, 2013

Insect Adventures Part 1 :: Meet the Butterflies

I've been so excited about starting my insect collection for such a long time. I had lots of questions at first. What type of insect/arachnid? Should I have a theme? Should I stick to one geographic region? Since I've already got a few butterfly items I finally decided to begin my insect collecting with an exploration of the order Lepidoptera, the butterflies and moths!

That presented all sorts of new problems. There is an amazing number of members of this order, most of which are beautiful and interesting and totally worth adding to a collection. I spent hours and hours trying to decide which specimens to begin with. In the end I settled on three different butterflies and the vendor I ordered from was kind enough to throw in a fourth! So let's meet the Lepidopterans, shall we? They're all still folded up as they arrived in their envelopes, so if you want a peek ahead at how they'll look in their wings-open glory, go ahead and click through to their wikipedia pages. Or if you want, keep it a little surprise!

This is Salamis parhassus or Protogoniomorpha parhassus. This is one of the very first specimens I saw. Their common names, one of which is Forest Mother-of-Pearl, stems from their gorgeous iridescent wings. I cannot wait to get a look at them!

Lyropteryx apollonia. I was totally taken in, I think as most people are, at the flashier butterflies with the crazy beautiful colors and patterns. But I also found myself really fascinated by the more subtle ones, such as L. apollonia. I love the stark contrast of black and white against just one really bright color, such as the pink on the underside here.

Another subtle (on the underside at least) beauty. Inachis io, who I purchased just because I love his name. A silly reason maybe, but I've always had a soft spot for Greek mythology. The river god Inachus was the father of Io, a priestess of Hera. They have a very long story associated with them. Plus the name just sounds cool!

And this is my bonus specimen! Honestly I'm not quite sure which he is yet. I'm working on figuring it out. Hopefully it will be easier once I can peek at the tops of his wings.

So if you're not familiar with the process, to pin these guys for display you first have to relax them so their wings can be opened without breaking. To do this, you create a relaxing chamber. Most are made from jars with a layer of some sort of wet media in the bottom and a separator on which you can rest the insect. When you seal the container, the humidity rises thus rehydrating and relaxing the insect. 

Here is my chamber:

I didn't have any jars so I used a tupperware. Added bonus was that I could relax two specimens at once because it has more surface area. The specimens can't touch inside the chamber. Mine is made of a layer of damp paper towels with a spray of Lysol to inhibit mold growth and a layer of bubble wrap.

 There they've been for the past few days! I've been checking up regularly to make sure there's no mold growth and the humidity is optimal.

In case all of this intrigues you and you'd like to get some butterflies of your own, here are the supplies I'm using. All were purchased from Home Training Tools, which I found to have good prices and very fast shipping. They also have all sorts of wet specimens and dissection kits...Ooh!

I have here an insect spreading board (the white foam), some black enamel pins, and an 8" x 12" exhibit case. I think for the price and with me being a beginner these are all spot on.

So I hope you enjoyed the little intro to my latest project! I can't wait to be able to pin these guys and place them in my case. Hopefully it will be just a day or two more!


  1. This is really interesting! Great post.

    1. Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I love blogging about this stuff ^.^

  2. cool! I'd love to try this! my friend's husband bought a pet scorpion, just so that when it eventually died he could mount it in a frame. it looks pretty neat actually...


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