Insect preservation question

P.jasonius

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 19, 2006
Messages
423
How do you preserve the color when mounting insects. I am trying to mount a large phasmid that died in my care, and the color faded out. M. dentricus, I believe. I have a couple more and would like to preserve them with their color if possible when their time comes.
 

arachnocat

Arachnoangel
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 27, 2005
Messages
792
I found that if you put the insects in the freezer for a few months they will dry and retain their color. I did it with some grasshoppers and it worked pretty well. I'm not sure what the minimum time you should keep them in there is. I think mine were in for 3 months before I mounted them.
 

P.jasonius

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 19, 2006
Messages
423
That's the 'freeze-dry' method. There is a maximum time for this method, or freezer-burn will discolor the subject. I don't know what the minimum or maximum is, and my wife is getting mad at me about all the stuff in freezer already!
Any other methods, or the finer points of this method?
Thanks in advance, and thanks AC.
 

lucanidae

Arachnoprince
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Jan 15, 2006
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1,081
Google search for maintaining color in Odonata. The process is a little complicated and involves acetone but it should work for your phasmids.
 

Tim St.

Arachnosquire
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Apr 22, 2007
Messages
97
When i was younger i would use a clear Varnish in a spray can, that used to work well, but it makes it brittle. Another thing id use is a clear hot glue, turn it into a kinda "Amber" inceasted bug, took awhile for me to get good at it.
 

Feathers

Arachnosquire
Old Timer
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Jun 3, 2007
Messages
85
Just a thought

Any coating ruins the scientific value of the buggy. I think the hardest to preserve coloration in are dragon- damselflies. Any soft bodied, juicy insect is going to be difficult. A lot of insect collecting books address your issue. I'll look at my books tomorrow and see what I can find, I haven't done it for sooo long. Still have a good deal of my collection. Never display where direct sun can hit them, which will fade all your hard work. Some collectors keep a black cloth draped over the display or use drawers. Regular light will also fade them over time - I had a large display of moths which faced north, always out of direct light, and the years still took a toll. And watch out for museum pests...
 

P.jasonius

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 19, 2006
Messages
423
Thank you. I hadn't planned on coating them. I'd like to make nice museum style mounts.
 

JLDomestics

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
Messages
244
I only pin insects that I catch and put in a killing jar with ethyl acetate and I haven't noticed any colour fading.
 

Mat

Arachnosquire
Old Timer
Joined
May 3, 2005
Messages
141
The problem comes from the type of colours and the way they work. Things like the reds and blues on a butterfly wing scales are caused by the physical layout of the scales - they split light into its component parts. The yellow and green body colours that you see in a lot of phasmids are chemical in origin. When the insect dies these can start to break down as a result of damage by light or bacterial decay.

Freeze drying can preserve coulors like this but you have to get it just right. If you are looking to keep a 'proper' entomological specimen then do what you can and live with it as it slowly fades to a brown straw colour. OTOH, if you are looking for a nice riker type wall display, do what the commercial sellers do - pin it, dry it and then paint it. Most of the large specimens of things like mandits or phasmids have been given a light coat of warercolour paint of the appropriate colour. I have a Jungle Nymph here my mother bought for me in a case, if you look carefully you can see the painting.

Matt
 
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