Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Displaying Butterflies

Displaying Butterflies

A few summers ago, I made a project of collecting and studying butterflies. It was truly enlightening--I had no idea there were so many varieties of butterflies in the place I live and that their habits (even between species) can be so diverse. Here is how I caught and displayed them. If you oppose to catching and preserving butterflies, you can also use this method if you find a dead butterfly in good condition.

1) I made a butterfly net out of a hanger and a piece of tulle. After catching the butterfly or moth in the net, you have two options for preserving. Option one: just place the butterfly in a jar and as soon as possible, put the jar in the freezer. I tried other methods, but the freezer was the quickest and most humane in my opinion. Other preservers place a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover in the jar with the butterfly but it can take several days for them to die using this method. Or Option two (used by professionals): pinch the butterfly's abdomen to paralyze it and prevent it from doing its wings harm in a jar. You only need to pinch lightly in the center of the abdomen to cause paralysis. Then you can place the butterfly in a jar or plastic container until you get home.

2) Once home, place the butterfly in the container of your choice in the freezer for several hours or overnight to make sure it's dead and also to kill any little mites or critters that may be living on the butterfly as well.

3) Sometimes butterflies die with their wings open, in which case, all you have to do upon removal from the freezer is display them. However, if the wings are closed you must re-hydrate the butterfly in order to open the wings without them breaking off. To re-hydrate your collected butterfly, soak a paper towel in hot water and ring out lightly so that it is hot and moist. Spread the paper towel in the bottom of a lidded container and using tweezers, place your butterfly on top of the moist paper towel. Place a lid on top of all and let the warm air soak into your butterfly for several hours.

4) Using tweezers, transfer the butterfly onto a dry paper towel and using two pens [high-tech, I know], simultaneously open the butterfly wings and lay a pen on either wing. The pens weigh down the butterfly wings and if left for several hours, this will guarantee that your butterfly dries with its wings open.

5) At this point, using push pins, you can display the butterfly in a shadow box with a label and enjoy God's beautiful creation for years to come!

My apologies if this offends any readers, but I love my butterflies...

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