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The Spreading Board

All butterflies and moths, and sometimes other insects, are mounted with their wings spread. A spreading board is therefore an important piece of equipment for the insect collector. One board is sufficient for a beginner, but eventually the serious collector will prefer more and different-sized spreading boards to accommodate either large or small insects. Adjustable spreading boards that meet both purposes are available from entomological supply houses. Wooden spreading boards (Figure 20) also can be made at home, using the following materials.

  1. Two end blocks, 5 inches long and 1 inch square.
  2. Two soft wood top pieces, 16 inches long, 2 inches wide and approximately inch thick. These pieces should be planed down to 3/8 inch thick on one edge.
  3. One flat strip of corrugated box paper, fiberboard or cork, 14 inches long, 1 inch wide and approximately inch thick.
spreading board

Figure 20

Nail the two top pieces to the end blocks, leaving approximately inch between the thin edges. The cork or corrugated paper then is tacked beneath the top pieces to cover the opening and provide soft material into which insect pins can be inserted.

The top pieces can be sloped by cutting the top sides of the end blocks into shallow "Vs". This permits insect wings to dry in a slightly elevated position and allows for any sag that may occur after the specimen is removed from the board. Spreading boards with level top pieces are acceptable, but insects must remain on such boards longer for complete drying.

A less expensive spreading board is made from Styrofoam. The dense blue insulation-type Styrofoam used in house construction works best. Carve a groove to accommodate the body of the insect into a single block of this material or glue pieces of Styrofoam together to make a board similar in size and shape to the wooden one previously described.