Re: NANFA--collecting and preserving aquatic insects

Dave Neely (
Sun, 08 Aug 1999 15:22:06 CDT


>...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.

All of the compunds you mentioned work great, but have the downfall of being
toxic to the collector, too. Apparently some folks have been using acetone
to dehydrate the specimens- from what I've read, they maintain color better
than other fixatives. Plus, it's readily available at any paint store, and
cheap, too. It's still bad for you, though, so don't breathe it.

For aquatic insects, 70% ethanol (drinkin' alcohol) or 50% isopropyl alcohol
works just fine, though some folks put a low formalin concentration (ca.
2%)in it to fix tissues and harden soft parts.

>Another source stated that putting the insects in the freezer >overnight
>will do the job.

Use quart size ziplocs in the field- just only put one at a time in each bag
or they'll tear each other up. Oh, and don't sit on them! As for freezing,
they lose color and decompose rapidly after being frozen.

There's several good Web sites with photos of live dragonflies, and at least
two with scanned images (wouldn't have thought of THAT one!). They just put
the dragonflies in the fridge to drop their activity level, then invert on a
flat-bed scanner and Voila! instant, kick-butt color images... I don't have
them bookmarked, but you ought to be able to find them easily enough...


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