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Pinning Large Insects

Insect pins are available from any dealer of entomological supplies. Do not use common pins, because they rust and soon ruin valuable specimens. Additionally, only insects mounted on proper pins are acceptable in competition. Insect pins come in several sizes, but sizes No. 2 and No. 3 are most useful to the general collector.

Any insect that is large enough to be supported on a pin without breaking or otherwise being distorted is pinned directly through the body. Insert the pin through the body from top to bottom. The proper place of insertion depends upon the type of insect (Figure 15). The following rules are for pinning different types of insects so that the pin is placed firmly through the heavier parts of the body without destroying important identifying characteristics.

  1. Bees, wasps, flies, etc. - Pin through the thorax between bases of fore wings and slightly to right of middle line (Figure 15A).
  2. True bugs - Pin through the scutellum, which is the triangular area between the bases of the wings (Figure 15B).
  3. Grasshoppers, crickets, etc. - Pin through the prothorax or "saddle" slightly to the right of the center line (Figures 15C and 15D).
  4. Beetles - Pin through the forepart of the right wing cover near the centerline (Figure 15E).
  5. Butterflies, moths, dragonflies, etc. - Pin through center of thorax between the bases of forewings (Figures 15F and 15G).
pinning large insects

Figure 15

A piece of 1-inch thick Styrofoam is an excellent aid for pinning or mounting specimens. As each specimen is pinned, push the pin into the foam until the insect rests on the surface with approximately one-quarter to one-third of the pin projecting above the insect to facilitate handling of the specimen. Adjust the legs, antennae, and wings to a lifelike position with forceps and hold them in place with extra pins if needed. Allow the specimen to dry in the desired position for 7 to 8 days before moving. To prevent sagging, the abdomens of soft-bodied insects, such as crickets, mantids, or walking sticks, can be further supported with two temporary pins crossed at an angle such that the abdomen rests where the pins cross. Pieces of light cardboard supported on other pins can also serve this purpose. Once dry, the specimen will retain the proper position and the temporary supports can be removed.

Flat sheets of Styrofoam or other porous material also provide a handy place for the temporary holding of pinned specimens while they are labeled, identified, or arranged in display boxes.

Purdue Extension Entomology, 901 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4554

Department of Entomology | College of Agriculture | Extension

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