Best Tips For Keeping Butterflies
Best Tips For Keeping Butterflies: To begin your collection of these exquisite Lepidoptera, you’ll need some basic items (the insect order that includes butterflies and moths). A sturdy butterfly net, as well as a spreader board, insect pegs, and a display box, are essential for a high-quality collection.
What is the most efficient method of using a butterfly net?
When using a net to catch a butterfly, move slowly until you are within striking distance. Place the net beneath the imprisoned insect, then swing it up and rotate the handle, causing the net to flip over and the insect to be unable to escape.
Lift the end of the net as you bring it over the insect and onto the ground, allowing the insect to fly to the closed top, and then delicately place the butterfly into a container under the net.
Recognize butterflies and moths
This stage can be completed after you bring the specimen home, although it is usually best to identify it right immediately in order to remember where you found it. Many common species can be identified with a book like the Golden Guide to Butterflies and Moths, or with an Audubon guide that includes color images of 600 species.
Determine which plant species the caterpillar of that species consumes using an identification book, and then search all of the plants in the area for tiny butterfly eggs on the underside of the leaves. (Come back later to see the caterpillars!)
If you wish to identify the ones you catch when you get home, make a note of where you found them and what plant or flower they ate.
The first step in establishing if a Lepidoptera species is a butterfly or a moth is to determine whether it is a butterfly or a moth. Moths have large, hairy bodies, dull coloration, are nocturnal, and rest with their wings spread flat.
Butterflies, on the other hand, have smoother bodies and brighter colors, are active during the day, and fold their wings over their backs as they land. The antennae, which are slender and form a club shape at the end, are another distinguishing feature. Moth antennae are typically feathered, with only a few species having club-shaped antennae.
Use a killing jar and a calming jar.
The simplest approach to keeping insects in a collection is to kill them in a killing jar. By soaking cotton balls in rubbing alcohol or ethyl acetate, you can produce your own. (a highly hazardous chemical – proceed with caution!) To achieve the best results, combine them in a glass jar with ethyl acetate in a well-prepared death jar.
The ethyl acetate works faster than rubbing alcohol, and the jar has a plaster cartridge that absorbs the liquid and keeps the insects dry.
Because butterflies are so delicate, they sometimes strike themselves in a killing jar, therefore it’s best to startle them by pinching their thorax – the center of their body. It may take some practice to perfect the method.
Begin with common moths or butterflies that you do not wish to keep as a collection. After anesthetizing the butterfly, carefully fold its wings over its back and place it in a glassine envelope.
Don’t keep the butterfly in the killing jar for too long. Remove the butterfly with tweezers if you have them. Either immediately pin the butterfly (see below) or put it in a glassine envelope with its wings folded.
Before unfolding the butterfly, you must “relax” it (unless it is still rigid). To make a relaxation room, place a damp towel in an airtight plastic container. Place the butterfly inside the lid, covered with 2-3 damp (but not dripping) paper towels.
The glassine envelope can be left with the butterfly inside. The butterfly should soften after 2-3 days if the cloth and paper towel are kept damp. The butterfly is ready to spread after it has relaxed enough to move its legs and antennae softly.
Using a Spreading Board
Use paper strips to hold the butterfly wings in place on a spreader board.
For butterflies and other large winged insects, a spreader board and insect pins should be utilized. Carefully insert a pin through the right side of the thorax. Squeeze the thorax to spread the wings enough to pin them in place.
Insert the body of the butterfly into the board’s groove; the width will vary depending on the size of the insect. Gently flatten the wings, then wrap a thin piece of paper around each wing and pin the ends to the board. (Be careful not to punch a hole in the wing.)
This will aid in keeping the wings flat until dehydrated. The drying process can take up to two weeks to complete.
After the butterfly has dried, remove the paper strips, but do not attempt to remove the rib cage! Use this pin to secure the butterfly in a display case.
Suspending a Butterfly
Keep your collection in a glass display case.
It is essential for any insect collection that you know the name of every bug that you find! Using a reliable identification book, you should be able to discover each bug’s scientific and common names.
Attach a little name tag (cardboard or other thin cardboard that works well) to the pin you’re using to secure the insect. You should also include the date and location where the insect was discovered (e.g., in the garden, April 13, 2005).
If feasible, collect two specimens of each species and mount one to show the bright upper side of the wings and the other to show the more camouflaged lower side of the wings.
Butterfly collecting is a fun and rewarding summer activity, and a mounted butterfly collection is both scientific and artistically valuable!