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Spreading the Wings
spreading the wings

Before attempting to spread an insect's wings, make sure the insect is fresh or thoroughly relaxed. Pin the specimen in the usual manner and at the usual height on the pin. Insert the pin into the middle slot of the spreading board and push down until the body lies in such a way that the wings are flush with the top pieces of board. Cut several thin strips of paper about 1/4 inch wide and 8 to 10 inches long. This paper helps secure the wings without rubbing the scales off or unnecessarily tearing the wings. Slip a paper strip between the wings (if they are upright) and use them to force the wings on one side down into position (Figure 21). Being careful not to tear the wing, pin the ends of the paper down to the board (B). Then, with a fine point or needle inserted behind the heavy front margin of each wing, pull to adjust the front wings until their hind margins form a straight line (right angles to the long axis of the body), and secure by placing additional pins in the paper strips (C). Work the hind wings forward in a similar manner until their leading margins are concealed beneath the front wings (D). Repeat steps for opposite wing (E).

After wings are secured, set the board aside for 10 to 14 days to allow the specimen to dry adequately.

Note: Incorrectly spread wings is the biggest error in beginning entomology collections. Proper spreading takes practice. Poorly spread specimens should be replaced before entering collections in competition.

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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