Thread subject: Diptera.info :: Pinning flies and wasps and some curious questions.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 23-04-2007 17:48
#1

Hi


I'm interested in pinning flies and wasps. I don?t know which sites are really trust for the correct procedure to do this task.
I have pins, but not yet the boxes... where can I find very good boxes to put wasps, and flies for pinning? (perhaps 50 cm x 50 cm x 5 cm is enough? --) Foambox to cover boxes is the best way to put the wasps? Which are the other materials are considered for pinning?
I know that our specimens must be very dry to avoid fungi attack, and then we must have our boxes the most drier possible because fungi spores can survive even during drier conditions... but it humidity appears... then they will attack. :(
another curious question... Why can't bacterias "eat" wasps' (flies') exoskeleton??
Perhaps the answer resides in the type of materials that compose the exoskeleton and that bacteria doesn't have enzymes that could decompose the exoskeleton... but this answer doesn't satisfy me. :(

Usually which is the best way to organize the boxes? For families? For capture date of specimens?



Thank you!

Edited by jorgemotalmeida on 23-04-2007 18:02

Posted by ChrisR on 23-04-2007 18:38
#2

Ewww ... big questions, which I might take to email later on the fine detail. But here goes:

When collecting for science (as opposed to for 'pretty displays') there are only usually 2 things to think about:

1. protecting the specimen in the best way possible in the short & long term
2. preparing the specimen so that it can be identified as easily as possible

With each group of insects you may discover different answers to those questions, depending on how hard/soft the specimen it and which features the identification keys use. Some keys/groups assume that specimens are preserved in alcohol (eg. spiders / molluscs) and others assume they will be dry (eg. most insects). I will assume we are talking about Diptera & Hymenoptera. Also, please remember a lot of this is my personal preference - others might/will disagree!! :)

I pin most specimens on their sides (lateral pinning) with very fine micro pins; diagonally so that I don't destroy the same feature on both sides. I then make a 'stage' using a thin strip of plastazote (high density foam rubber) and push a thick (size 3 or above) 'continential-sized' entomological 'stage-pin' through one end so the stage sticks out perpendicularly. The micro pin is then pushed firmly into the foam stage.

This method protects small/medium specimens very well while displaying as many features as you can. The stage-pin is strong and easy to hold/manipulate when moving the specimen and the stage absorbs most vibrations.

Also, this method lends itself very well to bulk-collecting of groups that take a while to identify. I will go out for a day in the field and catch maybe 50 insects. I pin them with micro pins and immediately put them in a clear plastic box with a sheet of foam at the bottom and 1 label containing all the data for that group of insects. Then when I have time to identify them I put a specimen on a stage; identify it; and put the specimen's labels (copy of the data & a seperate label for the name) on the big stage-pin, under the stage.

You can direct-pin, 'top-down' (dorsally) but I only do this with very large specimens (eg. Tachina spp. or bigger). Also, with hymenoptera many people prefer gluing the insect to card but I feel that very fine micro pins are much easier to use (glue is very messy); allow for moving later (glue can be dissolved but it isn't easy); need not destroy much/any surface features; and in general I like to have 1 mounting method for all my specimens.

As I mentioned, I use the flat, clear, plastic boxes for pre-identified specimens and they keep everything clean and dry and take up very little space. But when staged the specimen goes into a larger wooden store box. As long as they are kept indoors and dry they should be fine. If you are worried about pests getting in and eating the specimens you can always freeze them for a week or more in a household freezer. Many museums do this as a matter of course as many insecticide chemicals (napthalene etc) are now banned.

I arrange identified specimens taxonomically down to sub-family and then alphabetically there after. But with larger collections you might want to group by tribe too.

I'll email you some photos of my collection here so you can see. Oh, and I don't know why bacteria can't eat insect chitin :)

Posted by crex on 23-04-2007 19:05
#3

Chris Raper wrote: ... I'll email you some photos of my collection here so you can see ...


Could be interesting to see :)

Posted by ChrisR on 23-04-2007 19:42
#4

I've actually been compiling this mini-article on a webpage on my website. When I get the photos finished I'll post the URL here so everyone can see :)

I don't have a museum-standard collection but it does work well for me and I have developed the techniques over the last few years after going on the Imperial College / Natural History Museum parasitic hymenoptera course. :)

Edited by ChrisR on 23-04-2007 19:48

Posted by ChrisR on 25-04-2007 20:06
#5

I have put a mini-article with some small photos here: http://chrisraper...rating.htm - let me know if it is useful/interesting :)

Posted by diphascon on 25-04-2007 20:51
#6

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
another curious question... Why can't bacterias "eat" wasps' (flies') exoskeleton??
Thank you!


Hello,

in fact, there are "chitinovorous bacteria" as well as chitin degrading fungi. So why do fungi bother the collecting entomologist more than bacteria? A few speculations:

First of all, I think there isn't only chitin but also a lot of all the rest available on a dead dried insect (protein, fat etc.). OK, that's not an answer ...

Second, as far as I know, some fungi are much better than bacteria when it comes to extracting water (which all living beings need) from almost dry substrates (see e.g. the mould on your jam. Many bacteria would like the sugar as well but cannot get water out of the highly osmotic stuff).

Third, if there would be a tiny little bit of bacterial growth on your pinned flies (maybe there actually is, and more is not to be expected) it would probably be hard to detect that at all for the non-microbiologist. Fungi grow in conspicious filaments that are easily seen but bacteria form plaques on dry surfaces that are usually tiny and invisible under "natural" conditions.

cheers - martin

Posted by conopid on 25-04-2007 21:13
#7

This firm http://www.entosphinx.cz/_CZ/EU/ have some good value boxes and other equipment.

Posted by Tony Irwin on 26-04-2007 20:43
#8

Chris - I think your article is an excellent account of my system too! The only difference is that I pin a sheet of very thin paper (typewritwer "flimsy" paper) over the foam, so that I can write the data on it and draw a line to separate my batches of flies - most of my flies are much smaller than yours, so there's more chance of getting them muddled up!:D

Posted by ChrisR on 26-04-2007 21:20
#9

It's strange how much heat & light is generated when I suggest to people that side-pinning is a great way to prepare tachinids. So many still direct-pin dorsally, which I absolutely hate. Often direct-pinners use very thin pins which bend or 'twang' easily OR they use 'nails' that obliterate the post-sutural ac. Either way the episternum is usually invisible and the legs are hidden under the wings and cover up the katepisternum (sigh) .. sorry, rant over! :D

Posted by Tony T on 28-04-2007 15:47
#10

Tony Irwin wrote:
.... I pin a sheet of very thin paper (typewritwer "flimsy" paper) over the foam, so that I can write the data on it and draw a line to separate my batches of flies - most of my flies are much smaller than yours, so there's more chance of getting them muddled up!:D
.
In North America the standard system is to use small open boxes 'UNIT TRAYS" that have a foam bottom and come in 4 sizes; standard width but different lengths. These are placed in storage boxes or cabinet drawers that have a plain botom (no foam). Arranging and sorting specimens is easy and reduces the risk of damage. 1 species per unit tray.

Posted by ChrisR on 28-04-2007 20:47
#11

It's an interesting system. Works well for groups that are constantly being reorganised and I guess it is useful for large museums because they can reuse the same cabinets for insects or snails or minerals - just about anything that fits in the trays. :)

My whole collection is in store-boxes at the moment but when I decide to create a cabinet collection I'll certainly consider the unit-tray system.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 28-04-2007 21:16
#12

wowo! fantastic collection. I would be very appreciated if I could see a larger version of these photos to see details. :D

Posted by Tony T on 28-04-2007 21:45
#13

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
...I would be very appreciated if I could see a larger version of these photos to see details.

Details of what? The tabanids or the unit trays.:(

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 28-04-2007 22:23
#14

the details of flies, of course. :)

Edited by jorgemotalmeida on 28-04-2007 22:24

Posted by Tony T on 28-04-2007 22:43
#15

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
the details of flies, of course. :)

The idea of the photos was to show examples of unit trays.
I would not know where to start with the tabanids. I'm sure that Paul and others would be less than delighted if I posted several hundred images of North American tabanids:o

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 04-09-2007 20:30
#16

please, advice me very good wooden boxes with an excellent coverage above (transparent) for pinned flies (to avoid fungi). (i'm thinking about 1 m x 1 m sizes?) And the background must be in which kind of material?
links. :)

Posted by Kahis on 04-09-2007 20:47
#17

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
please, advice me very good wooden boxes with an excellent coverage above (transparent) for pinned flies (to avoid fungi). (i'm thinking about 1 m x 1 m sizes?) And the background must be in which kind of material?
links. :)


40x50 cm is big enough, much larger and the boxes will get very heavy and dificult to handle. I have my collection organised as an unit collection (photos to follow). The background of each unit is simply 1cm thick styrofoam. There are other, much better materials, but at 50x the cost, my choice was easy :)

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 04-09-2007 20:58
#18

don?t forget to advice trusty stores. :)

Posted by conopid on 04-09-2007 21:06
#19

Try these people:
http://www.entosphinx.cz/_CZ/EU/
who appear to post to anywhere in Europe.

Posted by Kahis on 04-09-2007 21:08
#20

First, non-sorted, pinned material is stored in various small plastic household boxes like this smiley one. The background is cut for a cheap, used camping mattress :). The background is glued to the box with any glue at hand that is not water-based (I've used rubber cement and silicone). They are rather small, typically 15x15 cm. Cost per box: 2-3?.

A few times a year, I empty all these small boxes and sort the flies to family level for further identification. At this time they are moved to the 'collection proper'

Edited by Kahis on 04-09-2007 21:08

Posted by Kahis on 04-09-2007 21:11
#21

My 'main' collection looks like this. Lots of small units in 40x50 cm drawers. This drawer hold the genera Mydaea, Helina & Phaonia (Muscidae).

Edited by Kahis on 04-09-2007 21:19

Posted by Kahis on 04-09-2007 21:18
#22

A single unit looks like this. It is handmade(!) from 0.5 mm thick Vivak plastic sheets. The bottom is styrofoam. The labels were printed on normal office transparencies and glued to the unit with a common gluestick.

The Vivak sheets are actually flat and transparent enough that it is quite possible to examine flies from the side with a stereo microscope without removing them from a unit! We've tought about ways to make also the bottom as transparent, but that seems next to impossible (and the labels would obscure then ventral view in any case :))

Edited by Kahis on 04-09-2007 21:25

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 04-09-2007 21:33
#23

i hate foam. :S
but it seems that is very dry, hence very good to avoid fungi. And it seems that foam doesn?t absorve humidity...

Concerning the kind of boxes, which is better for flies? Or doesn?t matter?

a ) Natural alder
b ) brown impregnated alder (mahogany)
c ) natural pine


The UNIT SYSTEM is the best for flies, is it right?

Do the FORCEPS SOFT helps to push the pin through the body of fly? :)

Edited by jorgemotalmeida on 04-09-2007 21:45

Posted by Kahis on 04-09-2007 21:45
#24


Therefore, the UNIT SYSTEM is the best for flies? Right?


Well, it is handy and uses little space. On the other hand, it is not as beautiful as a well-organised 'traditional' collection with neat little areas reserved for each species which the collector hopes to find. But then again, few fly collections are made for the visual impact, so in the end it doesn't matter much. Feel free to disagree :)

Do the FORCEPS SOFT helps to push the pin through the body of fly?


I have never used them. Flies are pretty soft and you do not really need to push that much :)

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 04-09-2007 21:48
#25

Kahis wrote:
First, non-sorted, pinned material is stored in various small plastic household boxes like this smiley one. The background is cut for a cheap, used camping mattress :). The background is glued to the box with any glue at hand that is not water-based (I've used rubber cement and silicone). They are rather small, typically 15x15 cm. Cost per box: 2-3?.

A few times a year, I empty all these small boxes and sort the flies to family level for further identification. At this time they are moved to the 'collection proper'



Jere, I saw in this photo that there are paralelipedic whitish objects pinned... what is that? How much cost each one?

Your box is funny. :)

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 04-09-2007 21:54
#26

conopid wrote:
Try these people:
http://www.entosphinx.cz/_CZ/EU/
who appear to post to anywhere in Europe.


I take a look on this catalogue:
http://www.entosphinx.cz/_CZ/EU/download.htm

Which would you advice to get? :)

I don?t have any backgrounf for the boxes, and it is important to have a transparent coverage. The most important thing is TO AVOID fungi! :|

Thank you!

Posted by Kahis on 04-09-2007 21:59
#27

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
Jere, I saw in this photo that there are paralelipedic whitish objects pinned... what is that? How much cost each one?


You mean the micropin stages, I guess. They are pretty cheap. I used to bum scraps of high-density polystyrene from a friend who sells insect drawers and then cut them to pieces myself, but now I buy ready-cut stripes from Vermandel, a Dutch store.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 04-09-2007 22:02
#28

Kahis wrote:

Therefore, the UNIT SYSTEM is the best for flies? Right?


Well, it is handy and uses little space. On the other hand, it is not as beautiful as a well-organised 'traditional' collection with neat little areas reserved for each species which the collector hopes to find. But then again, few fly collections are made for the visual impact, so in the end it doesn't matter much. Feel free to disagree :)

Do the FORCEPS SOFT helps to push the pin through the body of fly?


I have never used them. Flies are pretty soft and you do not really need to push that much :)



Jere, your main collection shows an UNIT system. And really, it is not for visual impact. :) However, I liked the way you use plastic sheets.

It seems that your main collection is covered by a mirror, right? I think that it is important to be very tight so humidity cannot invade the boxes. :( But...

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 04-09-2007 22:07
#29

Kahis wrote:
jorgemotalmeida wrote:
Jere, I saw in this photo that there are paralelipedic whitish objects pinned... what is that? How much cost each one?


You mean the micropin stages, I guess. They are pretty cheap. I used to bum scraps of high-density polystyrene from a friend who sells insect drawers and then cut them to pieces myself, but now I buy ready-cut stripes from Vermandel, a Dutch store.


yes, that?s it, Jere! It is a pity that this site doesn?t have an English version. Neither they accept card credit. :(

Can high-density polystyrene be used as background for boxes, right? :)
But it must be much more expensive..

Posted by Kahis on 04-09-2007 22:14
#30

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
I don?t have any backgrounf for the boxes, and it is important to have a transparent coverage. The most important thing is TO AVOID fungi! :|


Hmm, I have never had any trouble with fungi - but of course I live in a country with a rather cool & dry climate :) What is troublesome is dermestids. I have had relatively little trouble with them in my current drawers, but to be rule I seal the units with very valuable specimens in zip-lock bags for an additional layer of protection. Again, it does not look nice, but I'd rather have type specimens protected than nicely displayed.

The collection is housed in three cabinets for drawers; one made by a amateur woodworker friend, one bought from the local lepidopterologist society, and one which I had built by an estonian entomologist/woodworker and smuggled to Finland :p. One black, or white, one in oak. What a mess :)

Posted by Kahis on 04-09-2007 22:20
#31

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
yes, that?s it, Jere! It is a pity that this site doesn?t have an English version. Neither they accept card credit. :(


They have photographs of nearly every item. Just point, click, and find out what the stuff is. You may lern some dutch while shopping :) If I remember correctly, they send you a bill with enough details for making an direct bank transfer. I have used this option and had it worked like a charm.

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
Can high-density polystyrene be used as background for boxes, right? :) But it must be much more expensive..


Yes, it is very good but this purpose. But also very expensive in bulk :(

Posted by Tony T on 05-09-2007 00:00
#32

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
The most important thing is TO AVOID fungi! :|

If you keep your pinned flies in trays and keep the trays in relatively air-tight boxes you can keep the flies very dry by using a small amount of Silica Gel in each box. This stuff will absorb an incredible amount of moisture. If you get the "indicating" form you will get a visual cue of when to replenosh it. Blue when still absorbing moisture and red when saturated (I think that's the right order). Silica Gel may seem expensive but it lasts forever, when saturated with moisture simply heat it in a hot oven (400c??) and it will be ready to re-use. A teaspoon amount in a packet will keep a drawer of insects dry if the drawer is reasonably airtight.

Posted by Tony T on 05-09-2007 01:38
#33

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
i hate foam. :S
but it seems that is very dry, hence very good to avoid fungi. And it seems that foam doesn?t absorve humidity...
The UNIT SYSTEM is the best for flies, is it right?


You can use cork instead of foam; cork is the classic pinning base.

You could consider making your own unit trays. Over many years I have made thousands. Start with acid-free white card; decide on the size of tray you want. Cut the card into the square or rectangle you want. Most easily done using a paper cutter (guillotine), or you may be able to get a box-making company to cut the card for you. Don't underestimate the number you will need. Get at least a thousand. Score lines with a sharp scalpel or blade as in the top figure, cut out the corners to get bottom figure; fold up sides and fix in position with tape or sticky labels.
I found it best to do one stage at a time; thus accumulate about 100 rectangles; score the lines on each; cut out the corners on each; fold and stick the sides.
The scoring of the lines is done most efficiently by using a jig; then you simple slide the card in, score one line, rotate the card and score another line etc. etc.
I have forgotten how long it takes to make 1 tray but a morning's work of 4 hours should get you about 100 trays. Then you have to cut the foam/cork and stick it in the bottom of each tray.
Too much like hard work? then I'm afraid you will have to buy unit trays:p.

Edited by Tony T on 05-09-2007 01:40

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 05-09-2007 01:54
#34

cork! :) great, we have lots of cork! :)

You still not finished the other steps. :) I would like to see the final product, (without and then with your specimens).

The idea about silica gel is great, but here is not easy to find it! :(

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 05-09-2007 01:59
#35

my first fly pinned: Bombyliidae. :)

It would be great to have a complete list about what the best way to pinning a particular family.

Dorsal pinning >> Bombyliidae... :) ...
Pinning at the sides of the thorax >> Tachinidae, Chloropidae, Calliphoridae,...
Glue the fly >> ...

Is true that all flies can be pinned?


www.diptera.info/forum/attachments/bombyliid.jpg

Posted by Tony T on 05-09-2007 03:44
#36

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
You still not finished the other steps. :) I would like to see the final product, (without and then with your specimens). (

Fold up the sides and stick them:p:p
Here is a larger size tray that I cut open especially for you:D. I have placed a new self-stick label on the front corner, this will fold over the end of the tray side and stick it in the vertical position. I lined my styrofoam with paper. I make the sides of the tray a little bit higher than the length of an insect pin - saves me from acidentally hitting the pin head and damaging the specimen.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 05-09-2007 03:55
#37

ok. When I read your last post I was in a hurry. :)

I would like to see your cork drawers. :p not in paper. :P

Thank you!

ps change that moth for another thing much more beautiful. :P



Posted by Kahis on 05-09-2007 08:46
#38

Using cork is not recommended. It is slightly acidic and with time (a lot of time) your pins will get damaged. It is also pretty hard.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 05-09-2007 12:06
#39

for bottom of the boxes we can use:

1) stryofoam - more cheaper.
2) itex - can you tell more about this?
3) polystyrene - expensive, and what about his duration?
4) cotton - messy and not pratical..
5) plastazote foam - is it the same as styrofoam?

> I'm considering this : Plastazote foam bottom not glued by paper, glass top (http://www.entosphinx.cz/_CZ/foto/platkrab.JPG) . More cheaper and it can be closed very tightly (I think..)

> For wooden boxes, if I consider one... perhaps it will be in brown impregnated alder (mahogany)

So for keep the flies (before/after) we will need:
* ethyl acetate (to "sleep" the flies -- I read somewhere that is
dangerous to inhalate this chemical! :| )
* pins (micro and normal - I prefer the black ones.)
* itex, or styrofoam, or... Plastazote foam...
* gross paper (to make the ettiquetes)
* wooden boxes (pinus or alder..), glass top OR plastazote foam bottom
not glued by paper, glass top..
* more later... cabinets - very expensive!
* a pencil or I can print the labels.


anything else? I think that's all! :)

Thank you.

Posted by crex on 05-09-2007 12:37
#40

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
...
* a pencil or I can print the labels.
...


B)

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 05-09-2007 12:43
#41

thanks crex! :)

TO print insect labels I read somewhere that laser printer is much better than an ink printer... is it true?

Posted by Tony T on 05-09-2007 15:06
#42

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
for bottom of the boxes we can use:

5) plastazote foam - is it the same as styrofoam?

> I'm considering this : Plastazote foam bottom not glued by paper, glass top

> For wooden boxes, if I consider one... perhaps it will be in brown impregnated alder (mahogany)


This is getting too complex; let's start with storage.
1] The small units with foam (plastazote is the best) bottom are the UNIT TRAYS. They can be any size you want but they should be made so that when arranged in columns and rows they fit exactly into the STORAGE BOX or STORAGE DRAWER. The sides of the unit trays should be a little higher than the length of the pins. No glass top on unit trays
2] The unit trays are placed in a STORAGE BOX (STORAGE DRAWER). Same thing except that storage boxes are usually kept on a shelf, storage drawers fit into a cabinet. These boxes/drawers are slightly higher than the unit trays.
You can make the boxes to fit the trays or make the trays to fit the boxes.
3] My boxes have a hardboard top and bottom, the sides are made of MDF board (can use wood, pine is good if no knots). The boxes are made in one piece - 4 sides, 1 top and 1 bottom. The top (about 1/4 of the height) is cut off. An inner set of sides is glued in the bottom half. This makes for an pest proof box when the lid is on. See corner detail in photo.
4] You can have a glass lid if you wish.
It would be so much easier for someone to show you pinning, labelling and storing; difficult to explain in words.
5] My storage boxes hold 5 columns of unit trays. All unit trays are same width but are of 4 different lengths - but all combinations fit into the storage box.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 05-09-2007 21:52
#43

great explanation! :)

Posted by Tony T on 06-09-2007 15:23
#44

If I was starting an insect collection I would begin with cheap cardboard boxes with plastazoate or styrofoam bottoms. These come with either carboard box tops or with glass. I would store them in sealed plastic bags to keep out humidity and dermestids. In Canada they are very inexpensive. As the collection grew, and if I remained interested in collecting, I would start buying/making wooden boxes and unit trays. You can get some idea of all the various types of storage systems HERE; also in French. I think 1 Euro = about 2 Canadian $$.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 06-09-2007 22:09
#45

thanks a lot, Tony!


Just more one question: which is the kind of paper that museums use for labels the pinned flies? :)
I can have access to a printer laser. ;) So, it would be great to know which kind of paper can be used in printer laser to do the labels. Thank you.

Posted by Tony T on 06-09-2007 23:20
#46

The critical factor is that it be acid free. I use 110lb paper which is quite thick but any weight greater than 28lb will do. Check with your laser printer to see what the maximum thickness (weight) of paper it will take. Check with the enomological supply companies to see what they sell in the way of label paper.
Paper with a high rag content is believed to be better than regular paper.
Hopefully some of the European Dipterists will comment.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 06-09-2007 23:30
#47

thanks, Tony. Let's go wait for more opinions!

Edited by jorgemotalmeida on 06-09-2007 23:31

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 07-09-2007 12:32
#48

Tony T wrote:
The critical factor is that it be acid free. I use 110lb paper which is quite thick but any weight greater than 28lb will do. Check with your laser printer to see what the maximum thickness (weight) of paper it will take. Check with the enomological supply companies to see what they sell in the way of label paper.
Paper with a high rag content is believed to be better than regular paper.
Hopefully some of the European Dipterists will comment.


110 lb?? 1 lb (one pound) = 453,5 g ! Therefore 110 lb = 49,8 kg??

It is a rather heavy paper! :)

or are you talking about another lb?? :S
Or is it 110 g? ;)

Edited by jorgemotalmeida on 07-09-2007 12:36

Posted by Tony T on 07-09-2007 14:35
#49

In North America paper is characterized by its brightness and weight. "Weight" is the weight in pounds of 500 sheets of 17 inch by 22 inch paper.
Standerd weights are 16 to 42 lbs. Regular office, Xerox, typing paper, is usually 24 or 28 lbs. So my 110 lb paper is roughly 4-5 times as thick as regular paper.
In Metric measurements, "weight" is the weight, in grams, of 1 sheet of 1 square meter of paper.
110 lb paper in NA would be about 400 grams/square meter.
Brightness varies from about 80% to an impossible 110%; most seem to be in the 95% region. Low brightmess values makes the paper look grey; aim for as high a number as you can get.

Edited by Tony T on 07-09-2007 14:36

Posted by Susan R Walter on 08-09-2007 18:14
#50

Jorge

Paper: The paper normally used for photocopying or office printing is usually 70 or 80 gsm (grams per square metre). Some places use a heavier grade of 120 gsm photocopying or printing paper, especially if they use a paper with a letterhead preprinted on it. The paper I use for botanical specimens is a heavy weight cartridge paper of the sort that artists use for sketching. This is 220gsm (100lbs), so quite similar in weight to what Tony is using for his boxes. I suggest talking to your nearest artists supply store - many of them also supply museums and have a good understanding of natural history collections requirements.

The term Acid Free is used to indicate that the paper is stable and will not become brittle and yellow over time. The terms Museum Grade/Quality, Conservation Grade or Lignin Free also indicate suitable paper - they all mean more or less the same thing. The reason rag based paper is better is because it is more stable because it is hand made in small batches, with few additives and the principle fibre is a plant fibre other than wood. The lignin (a type of cellulose) from wood pulp in modern industrially produced paper breaks down quite quickly, through exposure to visible and invisible (UV) light, producing an acid and causing the paper to go yellowy brown and brittle. Leave a newspaper half in the sun and half covered for just an hour and you will see what I mean.

Printers: Laser printers are better than dot matrix because the ink is waterproof. Neither is considered to be truly museum standard because neither is adequately light fast though.

Foam Bases: Polystyrene aka styrofoam aka expanded polystyrene foam is completely inert, so will not produce nasty gases or acids that will destroy your specimens. It is also cheap and readily available eg in your local hardware store as ceiling tiles. Environmentally it is a problem if used as a packing material because it does not break down (ie it is inert). It can be safely burnt, which produces something perfectly inocuous (hydrogen and something I think from memory, but can't be bothered looking it up to check). The disadvantage for display boxes is that it does not cut neatly - crumbles all over the place and just doesn't look professional, and over time, it will develop bigger and bigger holes from pins being stuck in it over and over.

Plastazote is a brand name for high density polyethelene foam. It is also inert and comes in a range of densities from flexible to rigid. It is slightly more trouble to obtain, but the specialist entomological suppliers will all have it. It is also more expensive, but cuts to size and shape easily and neatly, and the surface is 'self healing' ie it does not deteriorate over time with being stuck with pins.

Dessicants: I recommend ArtSorb, available from Conservation by Design www.conservation-...sign.co.uk, but you must use it in the way described by Tony and periodically 'refresh' it in the oven or it is a waste of time.

Storage Boxes: Your storage box should obviously protect the collection from physical damage - being knocked etc. You need to be aware that the box itself may cause problems for the collection. It needs to be well sealed to exclude pests coming in, but that means that internally it will create its own microclimate, which can lead to conditions suitable for fungal infestation. To control this, and keep conditions as generally stable as possible, make sure the boxes are kept somewhere that the temperature does not fluctuate (and ideally is probably about 16C - not too hot, not too cold. If in doubt, colder is better than hotter.) The dessicant gels/crystals will also help with this problem, keeping the relative humidity (RH) stable. Almost all boxes will produce gases which can harm the collection long term, especially if the RH is too high. As well as the cellulose in paper, coatings such as paints and varnishes, the solvents in glues, certain types of plastics, certain types of wood and dyes or rubber backings in textile linings are the worst offenders.


Posted by Tony T on 08-09-2007 19:57
#51

110 lb paper (actually I think they call it "card stock" here) may seem thick when handled as a single sheet but when cut into a typical locality label (approx. 15x10mm) it gives a nice rigid label. I measured the thickness, it's 0.25mm; so it's actually quite thin. One could even use thicker paper for labels:D.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 11-09-2007 11:23
#52

wow! :) Great input Tony and Susan! Thank you a thousand.

First: Susan, do you know in UK online stores that sell the proper paper for pinned flies? WE HAVE no specific stores near. Maybe only in Oporto (200 km) and Lisbon (300 km).

For printers, I know that to liquify the toners it is need temepratures over 300 ?C impressive! That's why the paper printed get out so warm. :D
I need special paper for LASER (I have a friend that have access to one -
samsung clp-300) that can keep well with high temperatures and have enough tickness. And it must have over 95% brightness. I don't know which is the maximum tickness for the printer laser I appointed above (in the original site they don?t inform (?) about the maximum tickness enable for the printer).
So: paper anti-acid, over 95% brightness, with a good tickness, and that keep well with high temperatuers... what a paper!! :) Is there this dream of paper?

The problem for plastazote is: if wrapped like a cilinder it is not easy to put in horizontal position. :S

Artsorb! I never heard about this. It seems to be better silica gel packs. I will ask for this Artsorb.

If I use a normal zip-lock bags, I hope that this is not harmful for the collection... you talked about "certain types of plastics, certain types of wood and dyes or rubber backings in textile linings are the worst offenders." Which kind of plastic? :S

Tony, usually how do you organize your boxes? You put many families in the same box? Or did you in this way:
1 - for your favourite families, you got ONE box specially for it, and then you organize the box in alphabetical order for genus?.
2 - for the rest, we mix all in the same box.. and just try to organize them in alphabetical order?.. or in taxonomical order, I mean, similarities among the families.
3 - or other? :)


Thank you.

Posted by ChrisR on 11-09-2007 12:16
#53

I just use Conqueror 160gsm thick paper and it goes through my laster printer fine. The resulting data/det labels stay on the pins firmly but to ensure they don't rotate or slip in time you would use thick pins - like #3 size. That's why i (and a lot of others) prefer staging - the resulting specimen, stage & labels are very solid and protect the specimen well.

Watkins & Doncaster aren't the cheapest entomological supplier but they do sell the best equipment here in the UK. Their site is http://www.watdon..._home.html. They sell plastazote boxed & pre-cut into short strips that you just have to cut to the correct length. I use these and their A1 & D3 micropins - stage pins can just be cheap, steel Asta pins :)

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 11-09-2007 13:24
#54

so, in resume:

pin #3 -- to keep labels tight. Is this the reference: E6861E N0.3 - 38mm x 0.50mm ? it is ugly..


pin A1, D3 -- Stainless steel headless pins - I don?t like these one.. I prefer black pins.. I have some pins with this feature: size 0, length 38 mm, diameter 0,35 mm. It correspond to the E6862B in the site you gave. I used only these pins... just I will need a more smaller pins like these: size 000, length 38 mm, diameter 0,25 mm (the E6861 in the Watkins' site) I suppose you use pin A1 to pin very tiny flies on small stripe of plastazote, and the other one D3 in a much bigger fly. :)

plastazote strips for staging -- it will be pinned with pin#3 with labels below the specimen.. I think that is not pratical to have labels below the specimen. To see which is the species of the specimen we just can see that in some specific angles. :S


Other important issue. Concerning the labelling of the flies:

2 labels... for the collection, right? I saw your website, and I would like to put some questions.

1st label (near specimen)

o Place of capture (region, place name & map reference)

QUESTION: Will be enough use geographic coordinates without putting UTM? Right?

o Date of capture (often with the month in roman numerals)

OBSERVATION: I use always the format IN THIS WAY: YYYY.MM.DD
This avoids confusion!
I explain:
DD.MM.YYYY 02.12.2007 ---> is it 2 December 2007 or 12 February 2007? :S That's why I use the above format.
The same thing for format MM.DD.YYYY.

The other advantage is that you can put the hour! :)
YYYY.MM.DD.HH.MinMin.SS :) Of course that the HH.MinMin.SS is useless in this case..

I think it is best to use just arabic algarisms, than mix up arabic with roman algarisms. Well, this can be questionable.
So, I always in this way: 2007.09.11(.12.30.30) :) (THE hour I wrote this post, ehe)

o Name of collector

OBSERVATION: First and last name, right?

o (optional) method of collection



2nd label (more near plastazote foam) - the determination (or 'det') label (usually the lowest label) containing:


o Species name

QUESTION: why you wrote by hand the species and not typing in the printer ? :S

o Sex

If we know.. :)

o Name of determiner
o Year of determination



thanks for your patience. :)

Edited by jorgemotalmeida on 11-09-2007 13:27

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 11-09-2007 13:30
#55

see here for Spelling of Dates logically
http://www.kave.b...tumeng.htm


More one question: is it a good idea to put naphthalene inside the boxes? I don't know it this chemical can absorve humidity as well...
The major disadvantage would be the smelling of our specimens. :S

Posted by ChrisR on 11-09-2007 14:00
#56

Use of Napthalene or any other chemical insecticide has been the tradition in insect collections but, with our increased knowledge of the negative health problems associated with long exposure, quite a few institutions are now moving to air-tight cabinets and regular freezing of boxes to keep pests down. I have used Vapona cut into little blocks and pinned into my storeboxes but I am phasing this out and will just keep a good eye on my boxes and freeze them regularly.

Posted by ChrisR on 11-09-2007 14:22
#57

To answer your questions:

Pins: If your specimen is large you might want to do direct pinning with 38mm continental pins (I hardly ever direct pin). But try not to use any pins that are thin enough to bend while you push them into dense foam or cork. Bending pins risk damage to the specimen from either the action of bending or by accidental 'twanging'.

For staging or carding I only use #3 pins or thicker for the main stage-pin because they do not bend when pushed into the hardest of substrates (cork) and they are thick enough to prevent any labels from slipping.

The headless A1 and D3 pins are only used to pin the specimen to the foam stage strip and they seem to be the best sizes for my specimens.

Labels go below the stage, on the stage-pin. Data label goes on first because it should never be removed; the determination label goes underneath. The determination label is just a back-up to go with the specimen when it is moved around - the specimen will go into a store box which will be divided up into blocks of the same species and each block will have an easily-read label showing the name of the flies in that block.

Location: I always try to give a place name (eg. "ENGLAND: Hartslock Reserve, Goring-on-Thames, Oxon") AND map co-ordinates (eg. "SU616796"). I use the British "Landranger" co-ordinates here in the UK because they are readily recognised here and they are shorter than latitude/longitude (UTM?). But abroad I would always give a full lat/long reference.

Date: The date format isn't really important, other than it should be obvious to both Europeans (who usually use dd/mm/yy) and Americans (who usually use mm/dd/yy) and not confusing. In the UK we often put the month in Roman numerals to make this clear.

Name of collector: I would always give the full name, just for clarity - there are 2 dipterists called "Stuart Ball" so any middle-name initials should be given.

Species name: Some are printed (UK tachinids) and others are hand-written (foreign tachinids or any other insect). To print out an A4 sheet of random determinations would mean storing them up for a long time or wasting a lot of paper, and I prefer to attach a det label to the specimen immediately to avoid any confusion later. If this means I have to hand-write it then that's no big problem.

Hope that helps :)

Best wishes,
Chris R.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 11-09-2007 14:45
#58

freezing? :| But then... with the warming of boxes you will win some droplets of water on specimens... and then.. fungi attacks.
I think that using silica gel or artsorb and a zip.lock bag will do the thing.

UTM - Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system
http://en.wikiped...ate_system

"A position on the Earth is referenced in the UTM system by the UTM longitude zone, and the easting and northing coordinate pair. The easting is the projected distance of the position from the central meridian, while the northing is the projected distance of the point from the equator. The point of origin of each UTM zone is the intersection of the equator and the zone's central meridian. In order to avoid dealing with negative numbers, the central meridian of each zone is given a "false easting" value of 500,000 meters. Thus, anything west of the central meridian will have an easting less than 500,000 meters. For example, UTM eastings range from 167,000 meters to 833,000 meters at the equator (these ranges narrow towards the poles). In the northern hemisphere, positions are measured northward from the equator, which has an initial "northing" value of 0 meters and a maximum "northing" value of approximately 9,328,000 meters at the 84th parallel -- the maximum northern extent of the UTM zones. In the southern hemisphere, northings decrease as you go southward from the equator, which is given a "false northing" of 10,000,000 meters so that no point within the zone has a negative northing value.

As an example, the CN Tower is located at the geographic position [show location on an interactive map] 43?38r42;33.24r43;N, 79?23r42;13.7r43;W. This is in longitude zone 17, and the grid position is 630084m east, 4833438m north." IN wikiepdia.

I use this system. For example, for some flies I caught here the UTM coordinates are in the form: NE8989 ... Almost the same than yours: SU616796 :D This is UTM coordinate and we seem them in military grid reference system. I have some (this region and around) and they are very, very good. Remember we have and had the best for cartography. ::) -- Discoveries Odyssey: Glory of the Empire! In that far times, we had great cartopgraphers and still we have great cartographers that made one of the best military maps. ;) They use an UTM grid system, and we can see info about latitude/longitude as well.


I don't agree with the dates: we must SHOULD have a standard date if not... it is confuse! I agree that with numeral roman it turns more easy, but using entirely arabic numerals, the best format is really YYYY.MM.DD to avoid that confusion! See the example I gave. :)



Posted by Susan R Walter on 11-09-2007 15:06
#59

Chris - Vapona (in its original, highly effective form) has been banned for several years now. What is now sold as Vapona is little more than a herbal remedy as far as I know, although I haven't checked it recently.

Jorge - some ziplock bags are fine, and others are not. As a general rule, the more plastisizer a plastic has ie the more flexible it is, the more likely it is to give off undesirable gases. However, the rule does not apply in the case of plastic bags and sleeves. Some good quality plastic bags are made from inert polyester. It is generally extremely difficult to find out from the manufacturers though. These days you also have the problem that some plastic bags are designed to self destruct within about 12 months (ie they are biodegradable, so as not to add to landfill rubbish). This feature is less likely in ziplock type bags I suspect, but still worth being aware of. I don't really know what to advise you regarding ziplock bags. I'll see if I can find out from a conservator friend and get back to you.

Two good art supply stores in London are The London Graphics Centre www.londongraphic... and Atlantis Paper www.atlantisart.c.... Conservation By Design (see above, who sell ArtSorb) also do some acid free paper. (ArtSorb is a type of silica gel, btw, but a particularly good one if used correctly.) You should try French online art supplies too - they should be a good source of excellent paper and card - search for Aquarelle papier sans acide.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 11-09-2007 15:21
#60

this huge info could be compiled for an article with more information.. telling the advantages/disadvantages to use this or other system (for dissecating, for storing, for pinning, etc etc)

Susan:
"Some good quality plastic bags are made from inert polyester. It is generally extremely difficult to find out from the manufacturers though."

yes.. :( thanks!

I will try to seek for art supply stores in Porto. But I just can go there in next month.

I will see those sites and then I will let know which references I'm thinking about to buy. MOre later.

Thanks, once again.

Posted by Tony T on 11-09-2007 16:37
#61

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
Tony, usually how do you organize your boxes? You put many families in the same box? Or did you in this way:
1 - for your favourite families, you got ONE box specially for it, and then you organize the box in alphabetical order for genus?.
2 - for the rest, we mix all in the same box.. and just try to organize them in alphabetical order?.. or in taxonomical order, I mean, similarities among the families.
3 - or other? :)


Thank you.


One family per storage box and the just 1 genus per box. If there are very few species in a genus you can put more than 1 genus per box.
Divide the box into rectangles, size of rectangle depending on size and number of specimens. Put just 1 species per rectangle. If I was collecing smallish flies then rectangles of 10x5 cm as in the photo would be fine. If I was collecting tabanids I would divide the boxes into columns; in this example a column would be the size of 5 rectgangles. I use tabanids in this example as these are the most flies I have. I would leave empty rectangles for species I would expect to catch. I think you can see how much more efficient it would be to use unit trays, 1 tray per species. These can then be easily rearranged.
This box has a plastozoate pinning bottom. I covered it with paper (paper held down in corners with pins) so that I could draw the rectangles. I would not want to draw directly onto the plastozoate.
I use very fine pins and direct pin. Never had problems with labels working loose. Use entomological pinning forceps to hold the pin when pushing the pin through the labels(s) and when pushing the pin into the bottom of the box. I show 3 types, the bent ends allows you to hold the pin beneath the specimen and close to the point of the pin; this prevents the pin from bending

Posted by crex on 11-09-2007 16:44
#62

Tony T - Do you collect Tabanids from other places than North America? I think you got enormous amounts of Tabanids species there, but if you do I will get you some swedish ones next summer ;)

Posted by Tony T on 11-09-2007 20:06
#63

An embarrassing question. Earlier this year Nikita offered to collect tabanids for me in exchange for NA flies that he was particularly interested in. Knowing that he would be able to collect dozens, if not hundreds of tabanids, and expecting that I would catch maybe just 1 of the flies that interested him, I thought it best to tell him that I collected only NA tabanids. Not sure how he would have reacted to receiving essentially nothing in return for the considerable effort on his part. In fact, I am interested in obtaining tabanids world wide and welcome any you collect for me. The only specimens I can guarantee for exchange purposes are local Canadian tabanids.
Tabanids and most flies seem to be magnets for lepidoptera scales, therefore they should be caught in a net that has never seen, or been within 1 Km., of a butterfly or moth. Same goes for collecting containers. Tabanids should be killed soon after collecting. Killing by freezing (-17C) is ideal as the wings, upon thawing, move away from the abdomen and point upwards at a 45 degree angle. Simply pin the thawed fly though the center of the thorax. Important not to lose the antennae, or legs.
If Nikita reads this, my sincere apologies.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 11-09-2007 20:16
#64

-17 ?C??? where will we get a freezer so cold? :) we must go to Antarctica... but Nikita has Siberia near.. :)

Posted by Tony T on 11-09-2007 20:39
#65

OK Jorge, where the heck do you live? you have a camera, you have a computer, and you obviously have internet access; also a friend with a laser printer. But you can't buy paper, you can't buy cardboard boxes, seem never to have heard of a freezer. Most North Americans buy fresh and frozen food, we store our frozen food in a freezer @ about -20 C; most houses have freezers and we are a cold climate!
-17 C is a mild winter's day here, regularly reach -30 C and then +34 C in the summer. No need to go to Siberia for cold weather:p

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 11-09-2007 21:06
#66

:) LOL
I was just kidding, Tony. It wasn't to take serious. :P

Now, serious: yes, I have a freezer with -20/-30 ?C :) eheh
Fortunately, we have fair Winter - very rare to drop below 0 ?C. Sometimes we have very hot Summers. But this Summer was the most cold in 20 years.


One thing that we haven?t it is an entomological store. :(

Edited by jorgemotalmeida on 11-09-2007 21:07

Posted by ChrisR on 11-09-2007 21:50
#67

Freezing need not lead to specimens becoming damp - as I understand it, the museums seal the boxes in plastic bags before freezing. Freezing is used by the 2 largest collections in the UK (NHM & OUM) so it must work.

A standardised date format on a paper label really isn't important, unless you want to invent a scanner that will read data labels ;) Human brains are complex enough to work out any date system as long as it conforms to one of the many standards - it's just computers that have difficulty. Of course, a standard date format such as yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm:ss is great for computer systems :)

Any nationaly recognised grid-reference system is fine - computer GIS systems are sophisticated to convert between any known standard and on the paper card the only important things are that is should be easily recognised to anyone looking at the label; provide enough accuracy to refind/map the location and doesn't take up too much space.

I stopped using what they called Vapona a long time ago so I wasn't sure if it was still available - sounds like I got out at the right moment ;)

Posted by Tony T on 11-09-2007 21:54
#68

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
One thing that we haven?t it is an entomological store. :(

Don't bull-shit me Jorge. So where do you think my store is? I used to live in the UK and spent vacations in Almeria, southern Spain, further south than Portugal. Just a couple of hours flight from the UK. You have access, by mail, to Watkins and Doncaster in the UK. They sell everything you need and will even print labels for you. They have been in business forever, I used to buy from them in the 1950's.
In NA I used to buy my stuff from California, USA, which is a damn sight further from NB than Portugal is from the UK.

Posted by Kahis on 11-09-2007 22:43
#69

Tony T wrote:
jorgemotalmeida wrote:
One thing that we haven?t it is an entomological store. :(

Don't bull-shit me Jorge.


Calm down. I think he meant to say "I do not have a local entomological store in my town", not "there is no such thing as an entomogical store". You just have to cope with some sloppy syntax every now and then. B)

It is somewhat unfortunate that (broken) English became the standard means of international communication. It is by no means the easiest language to master.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 11-09-2007 22:52
#70

Tony, I meant: "in my town." :S Sorry if you understood other thing. That's ok. Tricky language.

Edited by jorgemotalmeida on 11-09-2007 22:54

Posted by crex on 11-09-2007 23:42
#71

Tony, I don't collect myself so if you get any it will be frozen, but not pinned ... I think we got posts somewhere discribing how to package and send flies in the mail.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 12-09-2007 00:11
#72

Crex, I wrote in search of google:
"package and send flies"
and it delivered --> Did you mean: package and send files
:D

I sent for some people some specimens (in total three specimens. lol) and usually I use tight vials (i will take a photo of the vials I use - just for weekend, ok? Recall me if I forget) and put ethanol 70%.
For dry specimens I also wonder how can we send the fly without damage the setas, the wings during the transport. Because I have here some nice flies to deliver and offer. :)

Posted by Tony T on 12-09-2007 03:16
#73

crex wrote:
Tony, I don't collect myself so if you get any it will be frozen, but not pinned ... I think we got posts somewhere discribing how to package and send flies in the mail.

Thanks for your kind offer, but tabanids sent from Europe to North America in any other way but as pinned specimens will be so damaged as to be useless. So thanks again, but don't waste your time. Just keep posting those superb images.

Posted by crex on 12-09-2007 07:29
#74

Tony T wrote:
Thanks for your kind offer, but tabanids sent from Europe to North America in any other way but as pinned specimens will be so damaged as to be useless. So thanks again, but don't waste your time. Just keep posting those superb images.


NP. Just a thought ...

Posted by crex on 12-09-2007 07:34
#75

BTW. Some day I will probably have reason to send bugs in the mail. An article (for non-collectors like me) on how to send bugs via mail would be useful. How to kill, put in alcohol or dryed, how to package etc. I guess the Dipterists Handbook consist of such info ... if a new edition would emerge.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 12-09-2007 10:40
#76

try to get some entomological pins... a strong box, put the foam in bottom. Put the pin (with fly already pinned) in foam. You can put glue at the base of pin to the foam. close the box tigthly. These are general indications. More later I will try to tell the rest. I'm in a hurry now. :)

Posted by ChrisR on 12-09-2007 10:52
#77

It's not difficult but it helps if you decided before you killed it to make it a "specimen" and not just a dead fly ;) It is always preferable to pin an insect just after it died, while it is soft - and in that way you don't damage anything. Using micro-pins and just pinning to a piece of foam is the easiest, as long as you also keep the collection data with the specimen or if it is big enough you can use the larger, continental (38mm) pins but this might be more difficult for the receiver to incorporate in their own collections (I know most collectors like specimens at a certain height on the pin) and potentially cause more damage.

If you put them in alcohol make sure it is a pure methylated spirit (Industrial Methylated Spirit, in UK) or Iso-Propyl Alcohol - with no colours or additives other than a bit of water. Push a small 'bung' of tissue-paper into the spirit to stop them moving much and then seal it with an air-tight stopper.

I'm not sure which I prefer to receive - it depends on the collector's experience and how much time the collector has to prepare the specimens. :D

Posted by Kahis on 12-09-2007 11:30
#78

So many topics in one thread....

Crex, could you please ask about sending specimens in a new thread?

Posted by crex on 12-09-2007 13:00
#79

Kahis wrote:
So many topics in one thread....

Crex, could you please ask about sending specimens in a new thread?


Sorry. here we go - Sending flies via mail!

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 12-09-2007 20:04
#80

Thanks to all for this great thread! You are the best. ;)
-- If I had some more doubts, I will let know you, but this seems to be enough.


- Chris I used always ethanol 70% inside vials with specimens and I had never problems. ethanol 95% is very aggressive for the specimen.
Ah, for those who are reading this, NEVER use formaldehyde because it damages seriously the specimen. :(

Posted by ChrisR on 12-09-2007 20:16
#81

Yes, keeping flies in 98% (absolute alcohol) is usually only necessary if they are being used for DNA analysis. This grade of alcohol will dehydrate specimens more and will also be more difficult to curate because the spirit evapourates too fast. Diluting it to 70% slows down evapouration and dehydration, but for soft-bodied flies it is always preferable to take them through a rehydration/extraction process to prevent the specimen from shrivelling up when the alcohol evapourates. But for tachinids I haven't found this necessary. :D

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 12-09-2007 20:43
#82

yes. I know. ;) I will send some for DNA analysis.

Posted by crex on 04-10-2007 12:21
#83

Very informative thread. A few more newbie questions.

- How do you hold the flies when pinning not to break bristles etc? They are generally quite fragile, I believe.

- How do you arrange the legs and wings in the right position? I think lepidopterists use (rice) paper to pin down the wings when drying.

- How do you know what pin size to use? Are there a rule of thumb for this?

- If killed in alcohol. Can the flies be pinned directly or do they need to be dried first? ... or maybe you never pin flies that have been in liquid?

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 04-10-2007 12:56
#84

"How do you hold the flies when pinning not to break bristles etc? They are generally quite fragile, I believe."


I put the fly on the table and simply I push the pin manually against the table (of course, I use a protection to avoid damage for table). :) Then I use another pin to help putting the fly in the middle of the pin.
Of course, I do this with 100% concentration and holds the fly very gently. :) There are specific FORCEPS SOFT that can help you to handle soft and very fragile specimens.


"How do you arrange the legs and wings in the right position? I think lepidopterists use (rice) paper to pin down the wings when drying."

Gently with a forceps soft, for example. Or with a normal pin! :)

"If killed in alcohol. Can the flies be pinned directly or do they need to be dried first? ... or maybe you never pin flies that have been in liquid?"

YES. You can pin the flies even AFTER they have been in ethanol.





Posted by crex on 04-10-2007 16:08
#85

jorgemotalmeida wrote:
Newbie wrote: How do you arrange the legs and wings in the right position? I think lepidopterists use (rice) paper to pin down the wings when drying.
Gently with a forceps soft, for example. Or with a normal pin! :)

I guess the fly must not be too dry to be able to adjust the wings. I thought the wings (and legs) might revert back to original position when trying to move them. There must be a reason the butterfly collectors use pin and paper to set them in the wanted position.

Posted by jorgemotalmeida on 04-10-2007 16:33
#86

crex wrote:
jorgemotalmeida wrote:
Newbie wrote: How do you arrange the legs and wings in the right position? I think lepidopterists use (rice) paper to pin down the wings when drying.
Gently with a forceps soft, for example. Or with a normal pin! :)

I guess the fly must not be too dry to be able to adjust the wings. I thought the wings (and legs) might revert back to original position when trying to move them. There must be a reason the butterfly collectors use pin and paper to set them in the wanted position.


right, crex. It is important to pin the fly very early because they turn very brittle with the time. Not just for wings, but bristles as well.

Posted by ChrisR on 04-10-2007 17:54
#87

The way people arrange a specimen when it is pinned is largely dependent on the way the insect is identified. Lepidopterists mainly use wing pattern so it's important to arrange the wings so all 4 are visible. With Diptera it isn't so important to pin them like that and in fact I prefer specimen side-pinned with wings at 45-degrees so that areas under the wings (the legs and pleurae) are also clearly visible.

How do you hold the flies when pinning not to break bristles etc? They are generally quite fragile, I believe.


Flies are quite soft and floppy until they have dried so any pinning and arranging must happen while they are soft and pliable. In a relaxed state they can be handled easily with pointed forceps. Once pinned the specimen is always held using the pin.

How do you arrange the legs and wings in the right position? I think lepidopterists use (rice) paper to pin down the wings when drying.

I side-pin into a sheet of foam and if anything needs holding (not wings - usually genitalia or legs) I use more small pins, crossed to hold the parts firmly.

How do you know what pin size to use? Are there a rule of thumb for this?


In general you should use the largest diameter pin you can without damaging the specimen (within reason). It is a thing you learn with experience and by seeing other specimen collections though. My advice is to go to a museum and ask to see their collections.

If killed in alcohol. Can the flies be pinned directly or do they need to be dried first? ... or maybe you never pin flies that have been in liquid?


Flies out of alcohol tend to be fairly floppy but stiffer than if freshly caught. The worst thing with alcohol is that the genitalia are usually locked fairly tightly and when the alcohol evapourates some soft-bodied flies can dehydrate and crumple. I am lucky because tachinids don't usually have this problem so they would just need to lay on some paper for a few minutes to drain away most of the alcohol and then thay can be pinned. :)

Chris R.

Posted by romunov on 25-03-2009 11:55
#88

Would be nice to see some of your flies being pinned and drying. Mine look like they're being give a session of acupuncture. :D

Posted by romunov on 13-04-2009 17:12
#89

Is there a preference for fixating the specimens (poison, freezing...)? Has anyone noticed any up or down sides of any method?

Posted by Johl Daniel on 26-04-2009 15:07
#90

I like Tony T's collection
Johl daniel

Posted by Tom van Noort on 12-04-2012 11:02
#91

I find the boxes from www.ento-meier.de superior. They are quite expensive though. www.kabourek.cz has good stuff too.

Posted by martincito on 03-05-2012 23:53
#92

Hello Dipterists,

Just a quick post to say how useful I have found this thread. So far I've just examined flies that have died and fallen to the floor of my conservatory. However they are fragile and hard to manipulate to check features against the keys. So I'm thinking that maybe I should join the mainstream and start pinning fresh specimens. On the basis of this thread and Chris Rapers excellent article at http://chrisraper...rating.htm I have placed an order for pins, plastazote and forceps with Watkins and Doncaster, along with a drilled pinning block to standardise the positioning on the pins, although I have only the haziest idea of how to use this. Thanks to Diptera.info for providing such a valuable resource!

Martin

Posted by ChrisR on 04-05-2012 00:35
#93

Welcome to the forum Martin - I'm glad you enjoyed my article. I am planning more in the future that should cover other aspects of entomology and expand on some of the stuff I started in my blog.

Feel free to message or email me if you want to ask anything. There are some very good dipterists in your part of the world so I'm sure you'd be welcome to go out in the field with some people this year. :)

Posted by rafael_carbonell on 30-09-2012 14:52
#94

@Chris

I have began to pint flies laterally, but all the way, my main problems are in how to shape legs unfolded downwards and wings at 45ยบ. I do some "acupunture" with small pins to fix the legs in the best way and wait some minutes.

I usually take them out of Barber liquid (a relaxing liquid, it might work as well as ethyl acethate).

I am working with flies collected in liquid traps (a solution to attract the olive fly) so I got hundreds of Muscidae, Sarcophagidae and Calliphoridae and, I has short experience, I found the legs folded in the body and is quite difficult to see the meron. Is there an easy may to manage with them?

Posted by ChrisR on 30-09-2012 15:40
#95

@Rafael

I tend not to worry too much about making the wings and legs perfect but if you do want to make sue that the meral bristles are visible then I think you are doing the correct thing - use micropins to hold them in the correct position. The advantage of lateral pinning is that this kind of manipulation (and more importantly the male genitalia) is possible because you pin it against a large piece of foam. When you get more experience you won't need to look for meral bristles - you will just know which family the flies fall into. :)

I know of Barber's fluid but I tend to use normal water - just make some tissue paper wet and lay the flies onto it for 24-36 hours. Ethyl-acetate has the opposite effect - it dries specimens and makes them harder and more brittle. That's why you tend to only use ethyl-acetate on greasy specimens that are already pinned ;)

The most important thing to work on with sarcophagids is to expose the male genitalia - you can ignore the females if you have lots of good males. When sarcophagids are not soft they will be very hard to manipulate, so try to pin them as fresh as possible or very well relaxed otherwise you will rip-off the genitalia, trying to fold them open ;)