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How are butterflies preserved for framing?

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Quick Answer

The proper method of preserving butterflies for framing varies depending on whether the insects are captured live or dead: most are frozen or placed in preservative chemicals or paper envelopes. Some techniques for preserving butterflies are more complex than others. The ideal method of preservation is different for immature butterflies and adults and for live and dead specimens.

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Full Answer

Butterflies captured in the immature stages (eggs or chrysalis) may be preserved in alcohol solutions. This method is also suitable for caterpillars and worms. In this stage, live eggs or pupae may be killed and stored in preservative fluids or boiled and stored in rubbing alcohol. Then, collectors can place pupae in alcohol solution then freeze and mount them on insect pins. For live adult specimens, collectors can first kill the insects then place them in envelopes or paper triangles. These insects should be then placed in a sealed box with moth balls or coated with insecticide to keep their wings and torsos moist (relaxed) until ready for mounting. Alternatively, collectors can store specimens in sealed plastic bags in freezers until mounted. Butterflies, like other insects, become quite brittle after death. The relaxation process, then, is quite important for keeping them flexible enough for displaying. Collectors can make relaxation chambers from jars or plastic boxes filled with moist paper towels and antiseptics to prevent mold and bacteria from growing.

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