Sunday, September 14, 2008
Systematists are increasing using molecular methods to study insect relationships, make identifications, and determine species limits. Some of these techniques, such as study of cuticular hydrocarbons, can be used on dried insects, even those stored in museum collections. However, many others require that specimens be treated so that DNA or other molecules are preserved. In general, specimens for molecular work should be collected in 95% or absolute (100%) ethanol (ethyl alcohol). It is best if specimens are thoroughly dehyrated by changing the alcohol at least a couple of time before the specimens are stored for any length of time. It is also advisable to keep specimens cold (frozen if possible). For more detailed information on specimen preservation for molecular work.