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  • Rights: The University of Waikato
    Published 14 April 2009 Referencing Hub media

    Watch Dr Robert Hoare, of Landcare Research NZ Ltd, as he mounts a moth for display in the Landcare Research insect collection. This delicate process results in a beautifully presented specimen for the collection.


    I'm just going to take my moth out of the relaxing box, so this is just an ordinary lunch box with some moistened tissue paper on the bottom, and this keeps the moth nice and floppy so that you can move the wings into position. These are special entomological pins that you have to get from an entomological dealer, and I'm going to pin it until it’s about half way up the pin. So now I'm going to pin it to my setting board, and this is made out of balsa wood, and I've smoothed the surface of the balsa wood with some very fine sandpaper so that it doesn't stick on the wings and remove the scales. So I pin the body of the moth into the groove, until the wings are just level with the surface of the board. The next thing I do is I pin the antennae forward, so they are out of the way of the wings. Now this is where I get my little setting bristle, which is made from a little piece of cork through which I have pinned a big entomological pin. And the bristle – the best thing is a cat’s whisker or some people say a lion’s whisker, but you can also use a little nylon bristle from a clothes brush. So now that the wing is braced at the bottom, we can use this little needle. We put that underneath the wing, and we just gently ease the wing forward until the hind edge of the fore wing is at 90 degrees to the body of the moth. And then I do the same with the hind wing, bringing it up to just underneath the fore wing, and then you just pin your little bit of tracing paper over the wings with little pins so that it’s holding the wing in place. And once the wing is held in place with the paper, you can take the setting bristle away. And you do exactly the same on the other side. The important thing is to make it look nice and symmetrical. And the last thing that I usually do is just to arrange the hind legs nicely to either side of the abdomen, and I just put a couple of pins underneath the abdomen so that the body is nice and level. Now you will leave it like that to dry for at least 2–3 weeks, and then you can take it off and put a label on it and put it in your collection.

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