Monday, 21 February 2011

Preserving Orthopteroids using Borax

I had an e-mail exchange with a few colleagues this morning about the use of Borax powder to preserve the green colour of some orthopteroid insects. This was (I think) first described in Rentz, 1985, and has been reported subsequently by various authors (including in Marshall & Haes).

The basic procedure is as follows:

  • Dissect the majority of the internal organs, being careful not to scrape the cuticle as the outer layers are transparent.
  • Dust the inside with Borax crystals and stuff with cotton wool to retain shape.
Judith Marshall offered some pointers to do with the dissection:
With slim phasmids the abdomen may have to be slit to remove gut etc., but with saltatorial orthopteroids and chunky phasmids the best appearance is maintained by slitting behnd the headcapsule and removing contents from there. 
As well as some changes to the method suggested by Rentz:
 I find the talc too fine and dusty so use only boracic acid crystals, which are easily brushed off after stuffing.
So there you go - hopefully of use to somebody.

There are also methods involving the use of 'embalming' fluids - which are pretty nasty cocktails of chemicals and probably best avoided.