THE PREPARATION / PACKAGING OF SPECIMENS



To prevent damage as far as possible when sending specimens through mail, some basic precautions are to be taken into account.
I try here to clearly illustrate some appropriate packaging methods that will hopefully make your precious insects reach your colleagues in A-1 condition.



Papering:

Preparing specimens prior to exchange is quite a simple task. 
Your specimens must be soft before papering. The handling and papering of dry insects is highly inadvisible. Dry specimens can easily be moistened. All there is to do is to submerge them in hot water for around 15 minutes. Take note that the goal here is not to boil them; hot water from the kitchen sink is warm enough.

It is not a common event, but the moistening by immersion can let a white/cream deposit on the chitin.Whether this deposit comes from the water, from the chemical product used to kill the specimens or from dirty specimens, it is always a little annoying when this happends. That's why it is rather advised to expose them to water vapor instead. For this, simply take a more or less air-tight plastic bucket or any other container that is filled with hot water, leaving some space between the water surface and the cover. A piece of styrofoam onto which are placed the insects in question is put down on the water surface as shown below. Close the cover and wait a few hours.

Illustration de la procedure

The next step is to paper those softened specimens. To do this, cut out a piece of cardboard, put some cotton wool on it onto which the specimens will be settled. Staple this in a plastic wrap and that's it.
 Data is usually written on the back of the cardboard. Be sure to use permanent / waterproof ink. Let it dry before storing.

Mise en blister


Parcels:

Parcel handling between the start and drop points is not always done smoothly, those among you who exchanged at least a little bit know very well about this.
That's why the way those fragile specimens are packed is quite important.

1-Papered specimens

First, take a little plastic or whatever-else container as long as it is resistant to pressure. Use cotton wool at the bottom, put a first row of specimens, cover with cotton wool, put another row of specimens and so forth, taking care to put bulkier specimens at the bottom. When done, put a last row of cotton wool at the top and close the lid.

Illustration de la procedure

One must not put too much rows, otherwise the bottom rows would be exposed to too much pressure. This container is then inserted into a strong box that lets enough free space for the insertion of styrofoam chips, as shown below.

Illustration de la procedure

Close the box, mail it and cross your fingers, because whatever care you took making this parcel, no one can prevent it from abusive handling.


2-Mounted (on pins or cardboards) specimens

It is much more risky to send already mounted specimens. I recommend to moisten those insects, remove pins and paper them.

However, if for whatever reasons one still wants to send them mounted, the following advices can be useful:

1- Be sure the pins are well rooted to the bottom and that the styrofoam used is dense enough to prevent their rotation.
2- Let some distance between specimens so that even a slight rotation cannot result in a contact between them or, still better, prevent those rotations by anchoring the specimens with additional pins as shown below. Do the same with pinned insects. Another way to do with specimens mounted on cardboard is to make the cardboard slip along the pin so it lays flat with the styrofoam at the bottom. Then secure them with more pins.

Illustration de la procedure

3- Pin heads must come in contact or be very close to the cover of the container. If there is some space left, fill it with a thin styrofoam sheet or whatever else that can do the job. This way, even if the parcel is turned upside down during transport, the pins will remain well anchored to the bottom.

This box containing the pinned specimens is then packaged in another box as described abobe.


 
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