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The Process: Steps 1-3

The Process: Steps 4-6

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The Preservation Process

Step 1

Kill jar

Once you've caught your insect, the first step in the process to preserving it is making sure it's dead. Put the insect inside a small glass jar with a small amount of a chemical such as acetate. Dubbed a "kill jar" for its purpose in the process, the deadly jar ensures the insect will be killed without damaging it aesthetically. It's not safe to assume the insect is already dead, DeBari points out: "I've had bugs come back to life on me!"

Let your insect sit at least one day in the kill jar, but don't leave it in much longer than that: Insects left too long in the jar will become to brittle to pin.

Step 2

Pinning insect to the block

From there, use a pinning block (a three-tiered wooden block will small holes drilled into each step; available from entomology suppliers) to pin your insect.

Place the insect on the top stair. Then, take a pin and puncture the insect all the way through its body and into the hole on the step. But don't just stick the pin in anywhere. DeBari recommends doing a little research on your insect before you get to this step in order to find out the proper place for it to be pinned. In this example, DeBari is pinning a beetle just to the right of its wings.

Step 3

Praying mantis arranged on pin

Once your insect is pinned securely, you can arrange it however you'd like. For a small, fairly compact insect like the beetle pictured above, you probably won't need to do much else to it. For a larger, prominently winged insect, such as a butterfly or moth, use a spreader board (or a piece of grooved Styrofoam) to carefully spread the wings out and leave it on the spreader board for a week to dry.