I've been setting beetles for my employer for about 3 months now. Currently, I apply relaxing fluid (Watkins & Doncaster) directly to the joints of the specimens, leave them for an hour or so and then pin them. I don't think this is working so well though and I have problems with breaking legs etc. I'd like to switch to using a relaxing chamber, particularly for larger specimens such as Goliathus spp.
Having had a look around I find a lot of different methods - most of which just use water. I would have thought that water would degrade specimens over time - I have certainly noticed a bad smell from specimens which have been immersed in hot water. I now have a bottle of Barber's Fluid and would like to do some experimentation! I would love to hear what your methods are, particularly for really large beetles.....
Also, surprised there's not a permanent 'Methodology' section to the forum here....or am I just being blind?
Hi Lue , Hot water is best . But if you are working with large beetles you need to dry them quick time . I dry my beetles over a light bulb once cross pinned , pin each side of elytra in fast drying or tyhey will spread . Cross pin each leg and several pins crossing over antanae as well more pins holding the beetle in natural position the better the lasier you are the poorer the pinning job will look in the long run . I work with beetles many years in hot humid tropical conditions and can say this is the best method , there are no short cuts to a well pinned dried specimen .
Hot water is not the best. It causes the interstitial membranes to decay. I've had a lot of beetles fall apart on me. I simply relax them in a relaxing chamber, with them in an envelope or still in the beetle card. Most of them are ready in almost 24 hours. Another method would be to use ethyl alcohol. Emerse them in the alcohol for several hours. Check them to see if the limbs and antennae are moving freely and when they reach the correct flexibility, you can mount them. Jeff Prill
I have to agree with Jeff Plain old relaxing via a chamber is the best. One can also dab Gin into the joints with a paint brush for those stiff ones. Check out the Old Forum---there were many ideas and pics from back then.
I don't agree with her method of mounting Cerambycidae. The antennae have to be set along the side of the body, and in specimens with longer antennae, they have to be wrapped around the body and pinned into place. The legs have to be arranged as close to the body as possible, which is to prevent the tarsi from catching and breaking. As far as fumigant, I don't use Paradichlorobenzene, instead, it's probably safer to use a cap of ammonia, instead. Plus, I've also heard that it also acts as a catalyst in the relaxing process. Jeff Prill
I've used a 50:50 concentration of regular household ammonia:water for years in a small relaxing chamber like a petri dish (for smaller specimens) for years. Most specimens are relaxed in 24 hours. Some specimens/colors will darken when moist but have always returned to the original state/color once dried. Works great.
I've set hundreds of beetles over the last 40 years. I began using Watkins and Doncaster relaxing fluid - however, it really isn't necessary to use it, tap water, with an anti-mould addition, such as phenol, or TCP, is perfectly good to use.
Hot water, although quick, will damage specimens, cause stains on beetles, alter colours and can make the eyes turn white, particularly with bupestrids.
Small specimens will quickly relax if placed on damp kitchen towel (say three layers) in a sealed container. I use an old Ferrero Roche clear plastic box, it is ideal. Simply place the dried specimen on the moist towel and leave for at least 24 hours. You can add a few drops of TCP to the box to prevent mould. Check how the specimen is relaxing by gently touching an antenna or leg. Some may require 48 hours to properly relax, it all depends on the ambient temperature. Large beetles usually take longer to relax than small specimens.
Last Edit: Nov 12, 2011 8:22:58 GMT -8 by johnnyboy
I live near Seattle, and sometimes feel like I could just leave them out, haha...
Normally I use a small tupperware container with layers of wet paper towel inside, plus some Enoz Moth Crystals (PDB has been recommended to me as an anti-fungal agent).
Open the card with an X-Acto knife, removing or at least opening the cellophane to allow some circulation. Add a few drops of room temperature water, depending on the size of the specimen, and let sit overnight. Most of the things I work with (small Carabidae) relax somewhere between 12-24 hours.
I make a small copy of the collection data that was on the card in pencil and put it in with the specimen. I don't know what the original data was written or printed with, and don't want the ink to bleed out.
Then, I usually soak stuff in acetone for 24 hours, as tiger beetles are greasy little bugs. I have some small, clean metal paint cans I bought for $2 at a Napa, intended to hold car paint sealant. These won't react with the acetone, and keeps the stuff from evaporating. Again, the copy of the collection data goes in with them.
Then clean off any dirt or whatever with a paintbrush, and mount.