I thought I had been managing my time well, but all of the little details like adding the labels really end up taking a long time! Anyway, butterflies should be stored in a glassine envelope which looks like this: You can purchase glassine envelopes from http: All you need to do is open the flap of the envelope and slip the butterfly in.
Once they are in there, you can store them in the freezer until you are ready to spread their wings. I hope this answers your question! My daughter found a butterfly completely open, unharmed and still very soft. I am trying to find out how I can go about putting this into a shadow box or some sort of frame. Would I just start with step 6? I just have it on the counter in a cool place and has been two weeks. I keep forgetting about it and would like to do something before it gets to late.
Yes, if you have found a butterfly that has just passed and is still very flexible, you should start with step 6. Now, if it has been there for two weeks, I would say it is definitely dried up by now and needs to be relaxed. If you try to move the wings up and down, and they move easily, it is fine to pin. If you ever find a butterfly or other insect that has just died and is soft and flexible, put it in the freezer. This will keep it all of its fluids preserved and keep it from drying out until you are ready to pin it.
I love your site! I have been trying to find out how to spread the wings of butterflies and dragon flies for some time. Your explanations were very helpful. I too, hate killing insects. I usually just find them or friends bring them to me. Now I know how to fix them to look natural. If I need to kill them, the freezer seems the most humane. No noxious chemicals involved either!
We try very hard not to touch them with our hands when retrieving them. We thought we successfully mounted 3 butterflies and 2 dragon flies in a shadow box yrs ago. They have been beautiful until this past month. I went up stairs to discover that their colors had literally fallen off. It was like powder dusting down the fabric they are mounted on. What do I need to do to prevent this next time. We have a few others that are currently being stored inside individual little boxes. If there is time I put a sheet of paper on top and that keeps the wings spread. Other wise I leave them alone… battle wounds and all.
I have been reading through tons of articles on how to do this. I think you handled this beautifully and the photos that go along with it are great anyone could follow it. Well, that is a head scratcher! Honestly butterflies will not lose their wing scales without some type of disturbance, especially if they are in a shadow box. Something must have gotten to them for this to happen, perhaps a pest of some kind. There is really nothing you can apply to a butterlies wings to protect them, and no way to apply anything without damaging the wing scales.
HOW TO: Pin a Butterfly
All you can do is keep them dry, out of the sun, and protected from pests. Make sure your shaodwbox is in good repair and seals well. As long as the butterfly is well protected, it should stay beautiful! About the protecting the wings…. Still looks just as beautiful and alive as the day I caught it. What clear coat do you use to preserve wings? Is it a spray? Really would like to use the method. I recently went on a trip to Costa Rica and purchased a souvenir of a glass encased wall hanging of three butterflies.
How do I piece it back together? Well, this is a little tricky since unfortunately there is no manual of repairing butterfly wings! You can try to repair it using very small strips of paper. You would need to glue the pieces of the wings to strips of paper and glue the strips of paper to the back of the wing so that the pieces fit where they are supposed to. If the paper sticks out anywhere from behind the wing, just use small scissors to trim it.
Truth be told, I have been worrying my brains out on what to do with the three butterflies my boyfriend gave me as a gift this morning. Thanks for writing us. What kind of butterflies did your boyfriend give you? Giving someone live butterflies is certainly an unusual present, especially at this time of year! I hope my response is not too late. They try into the sides of the container and so damage their wings. But, you can try giving them slices of orange or a bit of watermelon; they will sip the juice you might have to gently put them on the fruit — if their feet touch the juicy part, they should unroll their tongue and start eating if they are hungry butterflies have taste receptors in their feet!
To do this you should either gently hold it between your thumb and forefinger on its thorax the middle part of the body, where the legs and wings are attached. Be careful not to bend or break the legs! Or, if the wings are closed you can also grasp it just above the body by the leading edge of the front pair of wings — try to touch as little of the wing area as possible and make sure both wings are together and you are holding both.
You can see there are two very strong veins along that edge so holding them there is safe. If you grab some other part of the wing, along the outer edge or the hind wing, the wing can easily break if the butterfly tries to struggle and also you will remove more scales that way. If you have specific questions after reading that, then feel free to get back to us!
Good luck with your butterflies! Thank you for your response. I really have no idea what kind of butterflies these are. He gave them to me as a present coz he knows i like butterflies.: Two of them are already dead while one is still alive. Two are big while other one is smaller. Thank you for the instructions.
What should I do? Send them to blogadmin hmns. Yes, if the butterflies are still flexible i. Where is the tropical area you are writing from — south Florida, or someplace more exotic? I sent an email to the address you gave me. How long does it take again before i can remove it? Thanks very much for sharing this interesting post. I am just starting up my own blog and this has given me inspiration to what I can achieve. Thank you very much for this informative site. I like the personal touch you add too.
They have been in glycine envelopes and frozen for a couple of years now and I quickly found out that the relaxation stage needs to be taken very seriously. After breaking a few wings off on my first try with some of the less perfect specimens, I realized that they had dried out too much and needed to be relaxed. I saw that someone on the internet uses bourbon in the chamber to speed things up and to avoid mold.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you have any suggestions? Thanks for your message. Yes, having the specimens nice and relaxed is important — but it is also possible for specimens to become TOO relaxed, if you leave them in the humidifying chamber too long — and to fall apart, even when mold is not present. You will just have to experiment. Usually small butterflies only take about a day to relax, while larger butterflies may take 2 or 3 or more days. It is good if there is still a wee bit of resistance but no stiffness. As far as finding perfect specimens to mount, it is not easy to find sources of pupae, except perhaps from other enthusiasts like yourself — that these days, should be pretty easy to hook up with online.
And, what about raising some specimens yourself?
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If you learn the hostplants, you can find in the wild or bring in to your own butterfly garden caterpillars that you can then rear until they pupate. There may also be some companies out there that provided papered specimens i. Here is a list I found on the web of potential suppliers: Thanks for the info. Hey, the bourbon worked real well. Within 10 minutes I could spread even my larger swallow tails. So if you ever find yourself in a hurry this is a great option and I suspect one that avoids mold as well.
What do you want to do with your frozen butterfly? If you want to mount it, it should be fine. Just thaw it out and follow the instructions above. If yours is a frost-free refrigerator, depending on what the butterfly was in i. But typically things are relaxed once they thaw — but you should mount it soon after defrosting. Let it thaw and with a toothpick or something, gently try to move the wings.
If they move relatively easily, you can proceed with mounting it. If they are so still that you think they will snap if you put any pressure on them, then you need to relax it. Ok, so now I have about 50 specimens mounted. Are there any secrets to this part? Your idea of the shadow boxes sounds very attractive. We used something similar when we had lots of butterfly specimens on display in the old entomology hall fabric covering a foam mounting surface. You should know that some butterflies will fade over time, especially if they are exposed to sunlight or indeed to any bright light for prolonged periods.
Most museum collections are kept inside cabinets away from light, except when they are in use. But of course you will want yours out where they can be seen! Great steps you have! Have you put together a video showing how you do this? I just got a couple butterflies in envelopes so I can mount them. I got them in the fridge now in a container. I just puschased a mounted Morpho butterfly that is in a shadow box. I noticed that the wings are extremely shiny. Why and what do they use if so? I purchased it from the Butterfly Place which is in Massachusetts.
I have some speciments which I would love to mount. I have a couple Luner moths one of which is almost in perfect condition. I pinned the one that was in the poorest condition first obviously since this is my first time. Either way I want to keep that beautiful color from fading again.
Thanks for all your tips thus far!!: You are probably used to seeing Morpho peleides. The wings have probably not been sprayed with anything at all, more than likely it was just preserved very well! When spreading the luna moths, you will definitely use the same technique as with spreading a butterfly. Good luck, and we are planning on posting an instructional video as soon as we can get it filmed, so stay tuned for that! I work in a place that is an insect wondreland. I have seen more insects than I ever have. The strange thing is that where I work has a long hallway that is opened to the outside.
I have found moths, butterflys,and other insects that have died. There wings are spread and look like thay are in a pinable position. How can or what further step do I need to do. I found four perfect 3 Butterfly and 1 moth yesterday alone. I have also found dragon flys and praying mantis. The diffrent types of moths are numderous, and I saw my first Luna Moth. Any help would be great. Wow, it sounds like the hallway at your office is a bit of an insect trap!
If this is the case, refer to the first and second step in the blog that talk about relaxing chambers. If the butterfly or moth has died recently, then they will still be moist and flexible and ready to spread! If this is the case, you can start with step 4 in the blog. This will keep the butterfly fresh until you can get to it. I have collected 3 green colored luna moths and 1 brown luna moth. I have already pinned them on foam boards to let dry out.
They have been dead for about a week. I am wanting to but them in a shadow box to keep. Do I need to spray them with a clear coat before putting them in the box? This will be my first box and not sure on how many to put together since there is an odd number. I would not suggest spraying anything at all onto the wings of the moths! Also, this is really not necessary.
As long as you put them into a well sealed shadow box and keep it out of direct light, they will stay pretty for years and years. As far as how to orient the butterflies in the box, well, use your own creativity! If the box is large enough for all 3, you can put them all in and tilt them different ways to make it look like they are flying. I wanted to know if I should put it in a Tupperware container in the freezer until the box shows up? Yes, you should put it in the freezer.
This is the bext way to preserve it until you are ready to pin it. Do you have any tip on creating a shadowbox that can be kept dry and mold-free? I have recently pinned two butterflies, and my results are amazing. Only a tiny bit of the scales come off, which I think is fine. I also tried using hairspray to keep the scales on, and that is working too. I was just wondering where to get a shadowbox.
I found a beautiful large butterfly dead on the lanai in Florida. I put it in a tupperware and it was shipped back to CT along with all of my belongings. When it arrived it was still in perfect condition. The underside is more colorful than the top so I want to show that side in a shadowbox.
My question is should I spray hairspray on it to preserve it in the shadowbox and I was going to use nail glue to adhere it to the cardboard. Well, depending on what kind of condition they are in, there really is no time limit. I would say that 50 years is not too long. We have butterflies in our collection that are at least that old and have been pinned. You will definitely need to relax them before you try to pin them. Just refer to the appropriate step in the blog. Putting a butterfly in a regular frame may or may not work. I would recommend a deeper frame such as a shadow box.
There is also a chance that the glass rubbing against the butterflies wings can damage them or remove the scales. Also, the body and legs can get damaged or broken. A shadow box gives the butterfly plenty of room to be displayed and gives it movement. You can even add special touches such as dried flowers or custom backgrounds!
I hope this advice helps! My friend has an antique butterfly tray. Design made with wings, under glass. From studying online info, I would guess that it was made in Brazil in the s or s. The glass was broken in I offered to help, and have gotten the glass replaced. BUT, when trying to put the new glass over the wings, I found that there was a kind of static electricity which attracted the wings, and it became a nightmare trying to put the glass in place. Wings around the edge of the item fell off, and became damaged. I am a careful person, but this repair is more than I have been able to handle.
The old wings are very fragile and hard to control. Can you recommend how to fix this problem, or can you recommend a professional in my area who would be able to do the repair? Hi, I found a dead butterfly this morning and its wings are streatched out. Hi Betty, you can do whatever you want with the butterfly. Either way, once it is dried, it should stay pretty well preserved. You can read some of the other comments for tips on how to display it. What is the purpose of the wax paper? I found a beautiful dead butterfly with the wings totally spread out open. The entire composition is there, even the antennas.
Do I still need to do the wax paper in order to mount it in a shadowbox frame? I need to do this ASAP so it doesnt lose its beautiful colors. Thanks for your help. The purpose of the wax paper covering the styrofoam is to prevent the scales from being rubbed off of the butterflies wings while you are spreading it. The surface of the styrofoam is a bit abrasive, so it can damage the wings. But you can do whatever you want with it! If you are happy with it, you can go ahead and put it in a shadow box. You can use whatever type of glue you like! Also, I have a double glass paned wood frame with mounted butterflies.
I bought it about a year ago and the butterflies are getting eaten or something, it looks like there are bugs in the case. Is there anything I can do about it? You can really use any glue you like, but I find that hot glue works very well when securing the butterfly to the backing in the shadow box. To keep other bugs from eating your preserved butterflies, you can use fumigant strips which you can purchase at http: I have a gorgeous, pale green moth that my grand daughter and I collected while in the Georgia mountains recently on vacation.
It was night time and it kept flying into the glass french door to the living room. After it hit several times, I decided to get it before it died and the ants got to it. So, we put it in a large box where it died and I pinned it right away to the bottom of the box just to get it home. My question is — I read that the wings should not actually touch anything; is that true? Also, do you think you could help me identify it if I send a picture? Any ideas as to what it is? I received your picture and that is a beautiful specimen of a Luna moth! It is true that you should keeo anything from touching the wings as it will cause the scales, and that gorgeous color to wipe off.
Luna moths tend to fade easily, so definitely keep it out of sunlight and any other bright artificial lights. Is there anything more precise than tweezers that I can use while pinning them? I once saw a Zebra Swallowtail here in Utah. When I looked it up, it said the furthest Zebra Swallowtails go west is the Mississippi. There are several tools specifically used for mounting insect specimens that you can find at http: They have several different types of forceps tweezers that you can buy.
I would buy a few pairs and see what is most comfortable for you to use. Typically Zebra swallowtails are found in the Eastern part of the United States, but there can be exceptions. We have seen and heard of sightings of butterflies from Central and South America here. These butterflies are not typically found so far north, but occasionally one wonders up here.
They are one of my very favorite butterflies! I purchased a framed butterfly in a shadowbox at an estate sale. One of the upper wings has sagged and is laying on the bottome wing. The frame is sealed and I am wondering if i can repair it? It says it was sealed in Will the whole thing disintegrate if I unseal it? If I can unseal it, how do I do that?
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I would see if you can find an expert in your area to take a look at it. I was given a gift today, but it was bitter sweat. I knew I had a butterfly in my exterior porch and was keeping an eye on it to make sure it found its way out. As I went to check on it later in the day the butterfly fly drifted down and passed away. I scooped it up right away and decided I would pin it next to my collection photos of the garden.
Since the butterfly just passed away I assume that I can pin the thorax and wings on wax paper until wait for a period time. How long will it take before I can permanently pin the butterfly? You should go ahead and pin the butterfly now. I would not wait. Just go ahead and pin the butterfly, following the instructions in the blog, starting with step 4. Hi my name is alexis and last nite around 12am july 31st my boyfriend acciendtly killed a really big moth. Its yellow and brown and fuzzy. Well last nite I put it into a baggy and the powers from the wings is coming off. And on one part of the wing there is no design, I wanted to keep this moth and put it into a shadow box but before I do what can I do to keep the rest of the powder from coming off.
Thanks so much because what u said up above is what im going to do. I got a set of butterflies as a gift a few years ago and have taken them with me everywhere i move, but this last move a friend and i realized some little bugs had gotten to them and have put holes in the wings and were living on the thorax — gross.
The more the wings come into contact with other surfaces, the more the wing scales are going to come off. Especially if you touch them with your fingers. They need to be handled very carefully and as little as possible in order to keep the patterns on the wings. It takes a lot of practice to be able to spread a butterfly or moth without losing some of the wing scales. All I can say is do your best!
You can put the box in the freezer for 24 hours to kill any insects that are living in there and eating your butterflies. Then you can use the brush to brush away the dead things. You can purchase fumigant strips from http: I appreciate you trying to describe the butterfly, but I would not be able to identify it without seeing a picture. If you want, you may send a picture to blogadmin hmns. I have a collection of about 40 butterflies framed and in shadow boxes. We just moved to a house with a beautiful sun room and the butterflies seem to be the perfect addition to that room.
Is there a way I can protect them from fading while still displaying them in that room? I was thinking of the same type of UV protective clings that are used on car windows or something along those lines. I would appreciate any advise. There is really no good way to protect the butterfly wings from fading by the sun, even if you try to block out some of the UV rays. Most of the scales are colored by pigments, while others, mostly the ones that appear irridescent or shiny, contain tiny crystals that reflct light.
The best way to make sure your butterfly wings do not fade is to keep them out of direct light of any kind. If your heart is set on displaying butterflies in your sun room, there are a couple of options. You could try to use UV filters on the windows and maybe rotate the shadow boxes out. So, hang a couple of them up in there as far away from direct light as possible and change them out every couple of days or weeks.
The UV filters may slow down the fading process enough for something like this to work. Another option, which may sound ridiculous, is to display photos of butterflies in shadow boxes.
It would be some work, but you could take high resolution images of the actual butterflies, cut them out, and use different techniques to make them look 3D in shadow boxes. It is a technique used by a few museums because they do not want to ruin their actual butterfly collection by displaying them under lights. We actually had to get rid of many of our specimens that were on display because they were horribly faded from being under fluorescent lights for a long period of time.
If you try the first option, you might want to start with a couple shadow boxes that may not be your favorite as hard as that might be to decide! Display them for a couple of weeks and see how being in the sun room effects them. You might want to take before and after pictures to really capture any difference. If they seem ok, hang more, but I would definitely still rotate them every once in a while.
Hi I found a pretty dead butterfly and recently set up a hydration chamber as per your instructions. I used a mason jar, and there are no holes in the top but I discovered a little bug that looks like it might be a baby caterpillar in the container as well. I tried moving it to another jar with leaves though its no longer moving and I think I might of scared it to death in the move from one jar to another..
What you found in there with your butterfly is probably not a caterpillar. There is no butterfly or moth that would lay eggs on another dead butterfly. It may be the larva of an insect that eats other dead insects, like a dermestid beetle or something similar. If I were you, I would put your butterfly in the freezer for at least 24 hours to kill any other insects that my be living on or in it.
These insects can destroy the butterfly very quickly! Thank you for the excellent article.
Box Frame / Shadow - Distinct Butterflies
I also wanted to comment in regards to the mothballs or pest strips. Because of this little creature, I try to do everything I can to make my hobby as non-toxic as possible, and have found an alternative which you may find of value: Cedar oil, dabbed on cotton balls, can be shoved into those fold-it-yourself fumigating cubes and mounted in shadowboxes. Can this be possible? Do you think this is mold or something else? How could it have been prevented? Thank you for any advice. Maybe the butterfly was not completely dried out before it was sealed into the shadow box? Or the shadow box was left in a place where moisture was able to get into it?
You should be able to open the frame and clean the mold off. Then maybe leave the butterfly and the frame in a cool dry place to allow it to completely dry, then reassemble the shadow box. I just found your website and have a question that maybe you can answer. I purchased an acrylic case with a butterfly inside. Any idea what might have been pumped into its thorax and abdomen to puff them up? I have a few Monarchs in the freezer now that I would like to use in making a shadowbox display. You would have to make an incision in the abdome, scoop out the guts and replace them with cotton, then sew it back up.
I have a butterfly Anartia fatima I brought back with me from my field study in Nicaragua February Currently he is residing in a petri dish, not ideal for a keepsake.
I am curious as to whether or not this paint can be removed from my little guy in a non-damaging way. Just some rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip? Or is it not worth it? Thanks for your time and advice! I brought a gorgeous blue morpho home from Costa Rica. It is mounted in a glass frame type thing. Or it appears there is no way to get into the thing.
ANYway, this morning I noticed that the body of the butterfly has white fuzz on it. Do you think I should put it in the freezer? The rest of it looks as beautiful as ever, and I am afraid of losing my morpho. Thanks to your website, we have mounted a number of butterflies and a big moth lyssa sampa , which Erin and Nancy kindly helped us identify last year.
Because we only collect dead butterflies, they are very fragile and tend to be in less-than-perfect condition, I have found that using a pin to move the wings step 7 often damages the wings similarly, with the forceps to open up the butterflies. Instead, I would slide a small strip of wax paper underneath the wing to gently ease it into position.
This seems to work for me. You can try alcohol or dry erase board cleaner, which I have used to clean off permanent marker. It seems some moisture has gotten into your shadow box and caused mold to grow. It should kill the mold though. A better solution may be to open the shadow box and dab the abdomen with a q-tip soaked in alcohol. The leave it open for a couple of days to give it a chance to dry out.
You may want to keep an eye on it though to make sure no pests get to it. To all those who want to start a collection but do not want to kill the insects: First, kudos to you! The first step of appreciating anything is to value its right to exist! It is very easy to amass a large collection without killing any of the subjects: These bushes attract a huge amount of insects, butterflies included. Keep watch at the base of the bushes. Beginning mid-summer you will begin to find butterflies that have lived out their natural lifespan at the base. Often their wings are still in great shape.
Check the bushes at least twice a day as ants will quickly clean up any little corpses. Take a few walks along well traveled roads where your speed limit is 40 mph or above , especially those near fields or well gardened businesses and homes. Be certain to stay safe and keep an eye out for traffic make certain that drivers can see YOU , but the sides of roads are often littered with butterflies and other interesting insects!
I found a Luna Moth today at work and put it in a cup and taped another cup on top. Is there anyway to reattach it? The moth is otherwise in perfect condition. Can I just stick it in the freezer sniping the other steps? Thanks for your help in advance! First of all, I would not in any way encourage killing a poor moth, especially one as beautiful as a luna moth just to be able to keep it for oneself. Their lifespans are short enough as it is! Putting it in the freezer would definitely do the trick, if you must.
The tails are very fragile and most butterflies or moths that have them and lead a full life, will more than likely lose them. You can try glueing a thin strip of paper to the back of the hind wing and attaching the tail to it. It would have to be thin enough to be hidden behind the tail. In the future, I would follow the advice of the woman who posted previously and try collecting insects that are already deceased. I know they live short week and we will be moving soon.
Is my best bet, to keep a watchful eye and grab it as soon as it dies assuming it will fall to the ground and I should be able to pin it from there? Or do I need to freeze it first then pin it? Thanks for the help! If you are able to find it when it dies, you can pin it right away. When insects die, if left out in the open in a dry area, the fluids will dry up, out of their bodies and you will be left with a dry, stiff insect. If you keep it somewhere that is too moist or humid, it will mold and possibly rot.
So just be sure you keep it in a cool dry place until it is all dried out a couple of days , then you can put it in a shawod box or something like that. I am wanting to get into displaying. I will probably end up buying specimens, as I live in a city. Could you give me any direction as to where I could find nice double pained glass and wood shadow boxes to put them in? I have a small collection now of bugs Ive found in different stores and love the look of the double pained box.
I am interested in starting a collection of butterflies in glass shadow boxes. I want to buy several different butterflies from around the world but am having a hard time locating a place that I can buy them. I was wondering if you might be able to help. This article was great and very informative. We actually sell butterflies in our museum store! I would love to stop by but I live in Montana. I spoke with our entomologist, and she says to try ebay or bioquipbugs. We source our specimens from our own conservatory.
Thanks for the info i was also worried about damaging the wings best this blogs helped loads!! Your article is exactly what I look for, thanks! Hey, Im Namrata from India.. My aunt has preserved few dead butterflies since long… the other day while cleaning the house we found them… and i thought i could frame them.. I was not sure of how to do it and bumped into the information you have provided… I have by now understood that i have to re hydrate them before mounting… just few questions before i do anything wrong… I do not know how old these butterflies are..
So i shall not have a foam in the base to pin the butterfly.. What glue should be used to stick the butterfly on the glass?? The water will keep moist and acid will keep it from molding. Place batting, fake cotton within it nice and thick. Place a mothball in the very top corner as snug as you can get it. If this is not done, you will risk the chance of getting Dermestid larvae inside of your picture and it will ruin the entire picture.
Once, you have the mothball in the corner place your butterfly down onto the batting and place your glass on top of it. Put together the back of your frame and seal up the edges and corners with tape. Not Helpful 0 Helpful 3. It's an old tradition to frame butterflies, because very pretty butterflies look nice to some people as decoration.
Not Helpful 0 Helpful 1. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. Warnings Carbolic acid is a sweet-smelling clear liquid that is added to many different products. Carbolic acid poisoning occurs when someone touches or swallows this chemical. This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure.
If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number such as or the National Poison Control Center at Carbolic Acid isn't something you should be playing around with. It is very toxic and poisoning.