Sunday, September 14, 2008

Temporary Storage of Specimens-Papering

Lepidoptera temporaily stored in paper and glassine.

Papering consists of placing specimens with the wings folded together dorsally (upper sides together) in folded triangles or in small rectangular envelopes of glassine paper, which are the translucent envelopes familiar to stamp collectors. Glassine envelopes have become almost universally used in recent years because of the obvious advantages of transparency and ready availability.

In many collections, glassine has become partly superseded by plastic. However, many collectors still prefer folded triangles of a softer, more absorbent paper, such as ordinary newsprint, and believe they are superior for preserving specimens. Specimens can become greasy after a time, and the oil is absorbed by paper such as newsprint but not by glassine. Moreover, glassine and plastic are very smooth, and specimens may slide about inside the envelopes during shipping, losing antennae and other brittle parts. Although softer kinds of paper do not retain creases well when folded, this shortcoming may be circumvented by preparing the triangles of such material well before they are needed and pressing them with a weight for a week or so. Triangles are easy to prepare.

Some Lepidoptera are most easily papered if first placed in a relaxing box for a day or two. The wings, often reversed in field-collected butterflies, may then be folded the proper way without difficulty. Do not pack specimens together tightly before they are dried or the bodies may be crushed. Do not store fresh specimens immediately in airtight containers or plastic envelopes or they will mold. Write collection data on the outside of the envelopes before inserting the insects

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