Pinning beetle specimens

Watch Deborah Denovich, scientific preparator at the Museum, as she demonstrates how beetle specimens are prepared before they can go into the collections.

Deborah receives a variety of specimens which require pinning before they can go into the collections. The material could be recently collected, a donation or old material.

Storing in alcohol

Prior to pinning, specimens that have been collected in the field are stored and preserved in alcohol. This keeps them in good condition and helps them to remain soft and flexible for preparation. However, specimens kept in alcohol are prone to drying out and bleaching. Also, when removed from their containers they are more prone to getting lost or damaged if handled, and there is an increased risk of them becoming separated from their labels.

Pinning specimens

Larger specimens are pinned while smaller insects are mounted on small cards or points with glue. This is careful work that is done using a microscope to position the specimen. This preparation is for insects that are too small to have pins go through them.

Pinning specimens or attaching them to card ensures they are easy to handle and observe without damaging them. 

Labelling and storing

Labels stating where and when the beetle was collected, who collected it and its identity are pinned with the specimen. Notes about the type of habitat that was sampled might also be included. Without a label the specimen is practically useless in a collection.

All insects of the same Order must be grouped together before they can be dispersed into the appropriate parts of the collection.