Are you interested in taxidermy, but not eager to work with mammals, birds or fish? If you’re wondering what’s left, the answer is small creatures, including insects of various sizes. Even insects have to be preserved a certain way to survive long-term display. With this in mind, here is a basic guide to for success with insect taxidermy.
Step 1: Relaxing before pinning
Although you can wait a few days after collecting the insect before starting the taxidermy process, the specimen will now be hard and brittle, and difficult to pin without causing damage. Luckily, there is a way to relax an older specimen:
- Wring out water-soaked paper towels and lay them in a flat layer of two to three towels in the bottom of a plastic airtight container.
- Put the largest specimens on top of this layer, then cover these insects with a few more moistened paper towels. Place another layer of insects on top of this layer. Continue until all the insects are relaxing between layers of moistened towels, and ensure the stack is topped with a couple wet towels.
- Close the lid to the container and move it to a safe place. Most insects soften in two to three days, although larger insects may take up to a week. Check that the towels have not dried out, and check insect bodies for softness.
Step 2: Pinning
The relaxing process should have loosened the insect’s legs, wings, antennae and other movable parts. Gently stretch them out using a toothpick or a similar tool:
- Ready to pin? Using insect pins, put one pin through the middle of the thorax. Push it all the way through the body and about one half-inch into the mounting board. Leave room all around for pinning appendages.
- Using forceps, gently move legs and antennae into the desired position. Don’t rush—take your time! Let your insects dry for a day or two until the legs stay down without pins. Ever so carefully remove all pins except for the one through the thorax.
- Place the taxidermy insect in a display case. Pin it into the case using the pin that’s still in the thorax.
Step 3: Mount it in a display case
Grab the display case you want to use for your insect mount, and then do the following:
- Remove the glass cover from the case and set it aside. The case can be for a single insect or large enough to hold several specimens. If you’re using a larger case, start by positioning specimens one at a time in the desired arrangement. It’s best to mount the largest insects first, then add the smaller ones around these ones but leaving space between specimens. Secure each pin in the foam.
- Replace the cover and put the case out on display. Put it on a bookshelf or mantel, or use hooks to mount it on the wall.
Insect taxidermy is more popular than you might expect! When mounted properly, they make wonderful gifts, and are uniquely beautiful home decorations and room displays for your enjoyment. Contact the team at Nature’s Design Taxidermy today for more information!