Lepidoptera Facts Arrangement Of Butterfly And Moth Specimens

The selection of a cabinet or other storehouse for the rapidly increasing specimens of insect forms is often a matter of no small difficulty to a youthful entomologist. Indeed, there are very many points of considerable importance to be considered before any final decision is made. Freedom from dust, the exclusion of pests, the convenience of the collector, the depth of his pocket, and the general appearance of the storehouse must be considered, and it is impossible, therefore, to describe a form that is equally suitable to all.

If it is absolutely necessary that the cabinet (or its substitute) be of a very inexpensive character, and if, at the same time, the collector has not the mechanical skill necessary for its construction, then perhaps the best thing he can do is to procure a number of shallow (about an inch and a half deep) cardboard, glass-topped boxes, such as are to be obtained at drapers’ shops. For the sake of uniformity and convenience in packing, have them all of one size. Glue in small slices of cork just where the insects are to be pinned, and see that each box is supplied with either camphor or naphthaline. All the boxes may be packed in a cupboard or in a case made specially to contain them; and a label on the front of each will enable you to select any one when required without disturbing the others.

It may be mentioned here that glass is not necessary, though it is certainly convenient at times, especially when you are exhibiting your specimens to admiring non-entomological friends, who have almost always a most alarming way of bringing the tip of the first finger dangerously near as they are pointing out their favourite colours. ‘Isn’t that one a beauty?’ is a common remark, and therewith off snaps a wing of one of your choicest insects. When glass is used, however, see that the specimens are excluded from light, or the colours will soon lose their natural brilliancy.

Anyone who has a set of carpenter’s tools and the ability to use them well will be able to construct for himself either a set of store boxes or a cabinet of many drawers in which to keep his natural treasures. In this case a few considerations are necessary before deciding on the form which the storehouse is to take.

A cabinet, if nicely made, forms a very sightly article of furniture; and, if space can be found for it, is the best and most convenient receptacle. One of about twelve to twenty drawers will be quite sufficient for a time; and the few following hints and suggestions may be useful.

The wood used should be well seasoned, and free from resin. The drawers should fit well, and slide without the least danger of shaking. Each one should be lined with sheet cork, about one-eighth of an inch thick, glued to the bottom, nicely levelled with sand paper, and then covered with thin, pure white paper, laid on with thin paste. It is also advisable to cover each with glass, inclosed in a light wood frame that fits so closely as to prevent the intrusion of mites.

The drawers may be arranged in a single vertical tier if the cabinet is to stand on the floor, or in two tiers if it is to be shorter for placing on the top of another piece of furniture; and glass doors, fastened by a lock and key, may be made to cover the front if such are desired as a matter of fancy, or as a precaution against the meddlesome habits of juvenile fingers.

Store boxes are sometimes chosen in preference to cabinets because they are more portable, and because they can be arranged on shelves-an important consideration when floor space is not available.

These boxes should be cork-lined and glazed like the cabinet drawers; and if they are made in two equal portions, lined with cork on both sides, and closing up like a book, they may be arranged on shelves like books, in which position they will collect but little dust.

Both store boxes and cabinets are always kept in stock by the dealers, the former ranging from a few shillings each, and the latter from fifteen shillings to a guinea per drawer. Knowing this, you can decide for yourself between the two alternatives-making and purchasing.

We have now to consider the manner in which our specimens should be arranged and labelled.

Leading entomologists, and shows how, in their opinion, the insects can best be arranged to show their relation to one another; and you cannot do better than adopt the same order in your collection.

Butterfly sample display table.

Complete label lists can be purchased, printed on one side of the paper only. These, when cut up, supply you with neat labels for your specimens.

If you intend to study the British Lepidoptera as completely as possible, you may as well start at once with a sufficiently extensive cabinet, and arrange all the labels of your list before you introduce the insects. You will thus have a place provided ready for each specimen as you acquire it, and the introduction of species obtained later on will not compel you to be continually moving and rearranging the drawers.

Probably the number of blank spaces will at first suggest an almost hopeless task, but a few years of careful searching and rearing will give you heart to continue your interesting work.

Arrange all the insects in perpendicular rows. Put the names of each section, tribe, family, and genus at the head of their respective divisions, and the names of the species below each insect or series of insects. The opposite plan, in which the circles represent the insects themselves, will make this clear.

Three or four specimens of each species are generally sufficient, except where variations in colouring are to be exhibited. Wherever differences exist in the form or markings of the sexes, both should appear; and one specimen of each species should be pinned so as to exhibit the under side.

Finally, each drawer or box should have a neat label outside giving the name or names of the divisions of insects that are represented within. This will enable you to find anything you may require without the necessity of opening drawer after drawer or box after box.