Taxidermy is an art. It takes skill, time, patience and practice, which holds true no matter the size of the specimen you wish to preserve and mount. Today, let’s talk tiny creatures. Butterflies, for instance, can be mounted using a number of different techniques, but the more basic the steps, the better. Once you get the basics down and feel comfortable with a particular mounting technique, only then is it a good idea to modify the techniques (as needed) to help you achieve taxidermy perfection.
If you are interested in trying your hands at butterfly taxidermy in Cody, WY, then the following information is for you. Here are the basics of how to mount winged insects like butterflies and moths.
Catching and handling a specimen
The best specimen is the one you catch yourself. You can use an aerial net to collect the butterfly for mounting, but first you have to kill it. Take its thorax (the middle part of its body) between your thumb and forefinger and pinch. You must apply the proper pressure to stun the specimen, which is done to keep it from damaging its delicate butterfly parts. While it’s still stunned, slide the specimen into an envelope with the wings over its back. Put the butterfly in a box with mothballs to protect it from damaging pests.
Relaxing dried butterflies
Dead butterflies quickly become brittle. Luckily, properly dried specimens can be relaxed and mounted in any position. Be aware of mold and go for storage containers that are airtight and made of plastic, and use relaxing fluid if you want. Containers are filled with sand or paper towels, then water is added to create a humid environment. The time needed to relax a butterfly will vary depending on its size, humidity levels in the container and the storage temperature. Patience is the key to success.
Pinning to the mounting board
After the specimen is relaxed, use forceps to carefully remove it from the envelope. Hold it by its thorax and put an insect pin through the middle of the body right between the wings. The wings may get forced backwards during the pinning process. If this is the case with your specimen, get the pin all the way through, then gently force the wings down with forceps. Now, pin the butterfly onto the mounting board, making sure the side of the butterfly stays just above the surface of the board.
Mounting specimen parts
Once placed on the board, fold the wings down using strips of paper and pins. Don’t touch the wings with your fingers, but do insert pins into the wings behind larger veins to prevent wing tear. The antennae and abdomen need to be pinned in their right positions, and make adjustments before placing strips of paper over the wings to prevent curling during the drying time. After it’s dry, carefully remove the pins and strips of paper.
To get a better idea of butterfly taxidermy in Cody, WY, feel free to contact the professionals at Nature’s Design Taxidermy. Call us today for taxidermy services and pricing!