NANFA-- DP Off Topic: collecting and preserving aquatic insects
Sun, 8 Aug 1999 12:26:58 EDT

I have become fascinated with aquatic insects, particularly Dragon Flies. My
plans are to collect, preserve and display specimens in my fish room. I
obtained a basic collecting, mounting and display kit but am missing the
killing agent.

According to an old Purdue University circular on the subject, Ethyl Acetate
is the best agent to use for beginners. Apparently the professionals use
Sodium Cyanide or Potassium Cyanide. Carbon Tetrachloride and Calcium
Cyanide can also be used. The circular states that some of the agents should
be available from a local pharmacy but my investigation has shown this is not
true. One pharmacist warned that Carbon Tetrachloride has been found to be
carcinogenic and was taken off the market. Another pharmacist stated that
most of these chemicals are no longer available to the public due to
liability issues.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to obtain one or more of these chemicals or
have a better way of dispatching the specimen? I am also looking for a way
to preserve soft tissue aquatic larvae and insects such as dragon fly larvae.

Another source stated that putting the insects in the freezer overnight will
do the job. But this is a little tough to do when you are going to be in the
field for a couple of days or for a jar large enough to hold large dragon

I would also be interested in hearing about the procedures used by those with
experience in this area.

Chuck Church
PO Box 2067
Indianapolis, Indiana 46206-2067

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