Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pins and Needles 23 ~ Victorian vs. Conventional

Hey ya'll

So, in case you may have noticed, I practice a rather 'peculiar' method when it comes to spreading my butterflies and moths. If you will but refer to most of the specimens in my previous posts, you will undoubtedly realize that the wings of the insects appear to be in a semi-spread state (rather, they look almost half-opened when compared with the butterflies and moths one might see in a souvenir shop or a museum). This is because the method I have been using is one that has not been used in the scientific/collector community for quite a long time. The half-spread, or Victorian-spread method is one that - as it's namesake clearly defines - dates back to Victorian times and can perhaps be traced to budding interests in the observation of nature - butterfly collecting, for instance - that was the trend of that time. Naturally spreading techniques were, perhaps, less sophisticated back then but I do like to imagine that the Victorians (with their growing fascination for the natural order) placed them in such a way as to mimic the butterfly's natural, or resting posture in the wild. Indeed, this is why I have always favored such a technique! Lately I have, however, attempted to try my hand at more conventional spreading techniques, and using strips of baking paper or plastic, I would spread the wings of my specimens to their full capacities. Naturally, being only at the 'experimental' stage of this venture, I decided to try it on larger (makes for stronger wings and less risk of tearing) and more common moths. i.e my two Lyssa zampas.

Lyssa zampa female (left) and male (right) specimens spreading using strips of baking paper and  plastic
As you can see, I clearly did not do something right with the female and her hind-wing had somehow come off from it's original position to overlap the fore-wing. This was spread using baking paper. Also the hind-wings seem to have relaxed somewhat and returned to their original position.
The male, on the other hand I am quite happy with the spreading and the positioning of both wings. However on hindsight it would perhaps be best not to use strips of plastic for certain species of lepidoptera. Lyssa zampa, is notorious for it's loosely placed scales which stick to, and come off when the plastic strips are removed, most evident on the right wing. 
Eitherway, these moths are extremely memorable as a first-time attempt at doing things the more sophisticated way and I have thus, given them their own frames to commemorate it.

My personal butterfly and moth collection showing various spreading methods and techniques.

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