HOW TO: Pin a Butterfly

Have you ever seen a piece of art or craft that you think to yourself “I could do that!” but of course you never act on it?  Well, some people do act on that impulse and I’m going to show you how to do just that. 

Every now and then I get a phone call from someone who has a deceased butterfly and they want to spread its wings so they can put it in some sort of shadow box for decoration.  This is always a fun phone call because it’s kinda hard to explain the process of spreading a butterfly.  I usually end up inviting them up to the museum to watch me do it, but other times I just have to do my best at explaining it. 

 Papered Butterflies

Now, I do not spread butterflies at work for artsy reasons, but rather for scientific purposes.  We have a very large collection of “papered butterflies” that have not been spread yet.  (When I say “papered” I mean that they are in glassine envelopes awaiting curation, after which they will be placed in the collection – see the photo at right.)  These butterflies were collected by various individuals who never had the chance to process them -  which makes my job lots of fun because I get to do it! 

I have processed butterflies from places all over the world, Australia, India, and Peru to just name a few.  I remember spreading one that was collected in 1922.  You’re probably thinking “How can you spread the wings of a butterfly that is 86 years old?”  Well, that’s where we are going to start this butterfly-spreading lesson! 

1.  You have or have found a butterfly but it’s wings and body are hard and all dried up.  You can’t even open the wings.  This is typical, so no need to worry.  All you need to do is rehydrate the butterfly in a relaxing chamber.  If your butterfly is already flexible (you can slightly squeeze the thorax and the wings move) there is no need to relax it.

 Relaxing Chamber

2.  The relaxing chamber is very easy.  You can use any type of air tight container – I use Tupperware.  Place 3-4 damp paper towels in the bottom of the container.  This creates humidity, which will seep into the butterfly.  You also need to add a cap full of either Listerine or Pine-sol.  These act as mold inhibitors so your butterfly doesn’t get all yucky.  The last thing you need is something to prevent the butterfly from touching the paper towels.  I use wire mesh that I cut to the size of the container and put it on top of the towels.  I usually leave the butterfly in here for 2 days before I check on it. 

3. When you check on it, pick it up carefully with forceps or tweezers and hold onto the thorax.  Gently squeeze the thorax to see if it is flexible and the wings move a bit (This is very difficult to explain, so I’m sorry if it’s hard to understand – if you have any questions please comment below).  It this occurs, you are ready to start, but if not – just leave the butterfly for another day and check again.  Sometimes it takes 5 days or so, so be patient. 

4.  Now, you need a large piece of Styrofoam covered with wax or tracing paper.  While you have the wax or tracing paper out, make sure to cut strips about 3 x 1 inches to be used later. This paper prevents the scales from rubbing off of the wings. 

5. Next, you will need some type of pin to put through the thorax.  We use pins purchased from bioquip specially made for insects, but you could probably use any type of long thin straight pin.  Put the pin straight through the middle of the thorax leaving about 1/4 of the pin on top.  While pinning the butterfly, you may need to open the wings a bit.  Do this with your forceps and try your hardest not to damage the wings.

Opening the wings with forceps.
Put your pin through the thorax.

6.  This next part is different from the norm, but I think it’s so much easier.  You are going to pin your butterfly upside down, so the pin head will be going into the Styrofoam instead of the sharp end.  Spread open your butterflies wings and gently poke the pin head into the Styrofoam.  Be careful not to poke your finger on the sharp end.  Now your butterfly should be completely flat.

7.  You will need more pins to do this next part.  Place the first two pins on both sides of the abdomen, right where it meets the thorax.  This prevents the butterfly from moving around when you try to move the wings.  Next, take a pin and find a vein in one of the forewings.  Gently use the pin to move the wing so that the bottom of the wing is perpendicular with the body.  When you get the wing to the correct position, take one of the strips of paper and put over the wing and use some pins to hold it in place.  Do not poke the pins through the butterfly wing. 

8. Now you are going to move onto the hind wing.  Use one of the pins to move the wing so that the top of it just covers the forewing and use the paper again to hold it in place.  Now you can move onto the other side.  The trickiest part here is getting both sides of the butterfly to be even.  This takes practice, so don’t get frustrated. 

Halfway there!
Both wings should be even.

9.  Just a few more things and you will be finished. If the antennae are still attached to the butterfly, you can pin them into place so that they are symetrical. Remember the pins that you used a the beginning to keep the butterfly from moving?  You want to remove those and make a small teepee over the abdomen with them to prevent the abdomen from curling up. 

10.  Now you just wait!  I would wait about a week before checking things out.  When the week is over all you need to do is remove all the pins and paper, lift up the butterfly, turn it right side up and stick the pointy part of the pin in the styrofoam and VOILA!  your butterfly is ready!  Now you can put it into a shadow box or just keep it in your collection. 

I have a couple of last minute pointers before you go crazy with spreading butterflies:

- Patience is very important! 

- Butterflies are very fragile, so be extra careful. 

- If you break off an antennae or tear a wing, just glue it back on with elmers glue that has dried just a bit so it is sticky.

- if you have any questions please feel free to leave me a comment and I will do what I can to help!

I hope you enjoyed this little lesson and hopefully you will be a pro the very first time, but don’t count on it!  It does take practice, so don’t give up, keep on trying and remember to have patience!

133 thoughts on “HOW TO: Pin a Butterfly

  1. How long can you keep butterfly’s before they can not be mounted? I have a collection of 50 buttfly’s from 30 years ago from PNG.

  2. Well, depending on what kind of condition they are in, there really is no time limit. It’s best to find them freshly dead, and keep them in the freezer. I would say that 50 years is not too long. We have butterflies in our collection that are at least that old and have been pinned. You will definitely need to relax them before you try to pin them. Just refer to the appropriate step in the blog. Thanks for reading!

  3. Hi Diane! I’m sorry for the late reply, I’ve been out of town. Putting a butterfly in a regular frame may or may not work. I would recommend a deeper frame such as a shadow box. I’m afraid, depending on what position the butterfly’s wings are in , that a normal picture frame would distort or squish the wings. There is also a chance that the glass rubbing against the butterflies wings can damage them or remove the scales. Also, the body and legs can get damaged or broken. A shadow box gives the butterfly plenty of room to be displayed and gives it movement. You can even add special touches such as dried flowers or custom backgrounds! I hope this advice helps!

  4. My friend has an antique butterfly tray. Design made with wings, under glass. From
    studying online info, I would guess that it was made in Brazil in the 1940s or 1950s.
    The glass was broken in 2009. I offered to help, and have gotten the glass replaced.
    BUT, when trying to put the new glass over the wings, I found that there was a kind of static electricity which attracted the wings, and it became a nightmare trying to
    put the glass in place. Wings around the edge of the item fell off, and became damaged. I am a careful person, but this repair is more than I have been able to handle. The old wings are very fragile and hard to control. Can you recommend how to fix this problem, or can you recommend a professional in my area who would be able
    to do the repair? Thank you.

  5. Hi,
    I found a dead butterfly this morning and its wings are streatched out. So since it’s in the right position what should I do next to perserve it?
    Betty

  6. Hi Betty, you can do whatever you want with the butterfly. If you’re happy with the way it’s wings are, I would just put it in a safe place to dry out, so it will stay in that position. If you want, you can try to spread it’s wings out a little more by following the instructions in the blog. Either way, once it is dried, it should stay pretty well preserved. You can read some of the other comments for tips on how to display it. Thanks for reading!

  7. What is the purpose of the wax paper? Somehow it’s not clear. I found a beautiful dead butterfly with the wings totally spread out open. The entire composition is there, even the antennas. Do I still need to do the wax paper in order to mount it in a shadowbox frame? Can we use crazy glue instead of Elmer’s glue to pin it to the box? I need to do this ASAP so it doesnt lose its beautiful colors. Thanks for your help.

  8. Hi Barbi!

    The purpose of the wax paper covering the styrofoam is to prevent the scales from being rubbed off of the butterflies wings while you are spreading it. The surface of the styrofoam is a bit abrasive, so it can damage the wings. If you’ve found a butterfly and you are happy with the position of it’s wings, then you can keep it that way. Scientists usually prefer to spread a butterfly’s wings in a specific way because it makes it easy to see all of the markings and wing veins, so we can identify it. But you can do whatever you want with it! If you want to change the position of it’s wings, follow the instructions in the blog. If you are happy with it, you can go ahead and put it in a shadow box. You can use whatever type of glue you like!

  9. Hey! I was wondering what kind of glue I could use to mount my butterflies in my shadowbox, do I actually use the Elmer’s glue to mount it in the frame? Also, I have a double glass paned wood frame with mounted butterflies. I bought it about a year ago and the butterflies are getting eaten or something, it looks like there are bugs in the case. Is there anything I can do about it? Thanks, Crystal

  10. Hi Crystal,

    You can really use any glue you like, but I find that hot glue works very well when securing the butterfly to the backing in the shadow box. To keep other bugs from eating your preserved butterflies, you can use fumigant strips which you can purchase at http://www.bioquip.com. You can also try moth balls, I’ve heard they work as well. Good luck!

  11. I have a gorgeous, pale green moth that my grand daughter and I collected while in the Georgia mountains recently on vacation. It was night time and it kept flying into the glass french door to the living room. After it hit several times, I decided to get it before it died and the ants got to it. So, we put it in a large box where it died and I pinned it right away to the bottom of the box just to get it home. So, it’s in perfect condition and I’m ready to put it into a shadow box. My question is – I read that the wings should not actually touch anything; is that true? Also, do you think you could help me identify it if I send a picture? As I said, it’s a lovely soft green with two wings and “tails”. from the top edge of each wing is a “tear drop” shape and it has a white body. Any ideas as to what it is? I’ll send a photo if you think it will help. God Bless, Judy

  12. Hi Judy! I received your picture and that is a beautiful specimen of a Luna moth! They are just my (and many other people’s) absolute favorite! It is true that you should keeo anything from touching the wings as it will cause the scales, and that gorgeous color to wipe off. Luna moths tend to fade easily, so definitely keep it out of sunlight and any other bright artificial lights. Great find!

  13. Hi! I like to preserve butterflies, but I HATE touching them. Is there anything more precise than tweezers that I can use while pinning them?
    Thanks!

  14. I once saw a Zebra Swallowtail here in Utah. When I looked it up, it said the furthest Zebra Swallowtails go west is the Mississippi. If that’s true, why did I see one here? And is their any chance I’ll see it here again?
    Thanks,
    Sissy

  15. Hi Skia,

    There are several tools specifically used for mounting insect specimens that you can find at http://www.bioquip.com. They have several different types of forceps (tweezers) that you can buy. I would buy a few pairs and see what is most comfortable for you to use.

    Sissy,

    Typically Zebra swallowtails are found in the Eastern part of the United States, but there can be exceptions. We have seen and heard of sightings of butterflies from Central and South America here. These butterflies are not typically found so far north, but occasionally one wonders up here. I think isolated incidents happen, but I wouldn’t count on seeing one again, but who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky! They are one of my very favorite butterflies!

  16. I purchased a framed butterfly in a shadowbox at an estate sale. One of the upper wings has sagged and is laying on the bottome wing. The frame is sealed and I am wondering if i can repair it? It says it was sealed in 1967. Will the whole thing disintegrate if I unseal it? If I can unseal it, how do I do that?

  17. Hi Amanda,

    I’m sorry, but not being able to actually see the butterfly myself, or what exactly is wrong with it, I can’t really advise you on how to repair it! I wouldn’t think the whole thing would disintigrate if you opened it, but again, I’m not sure. I would see if you can find an expert in your area to take a look at it. Good luck!

  18. Hello,

    I was given a gift today, but it was bitter sweat. I knew I had a butterfly in my exterior porch and was keeping an eye on it to make sure it found its way out. As I went to check on it later in the day the butterfly fly drifted down and passed away. I scooped it up right away and decided I would pin it next to my collection photos of the garden. Since the butterfly just passed away I assume that I can pin the thorax and wings on wax paper until wait for a period time. How long will it take before I can permanently pin the butterfly? Thanks!

  19. Hi Brad! You should go ahead and pin the butterfly now. I would not wait. The longer you wait, the more dry, stiff, and friagile the butterfly’s wings will become. Just go ahead and pin the butterfly, following the instructions in the blog, starting with step 4. After following the steps to spread the butterfly’s wings and keep them in place, leave the butterfly for a good week. After that, it’s wings will have dried into place and you can put it in a frame, shadowbox, or whatever you please!

  20. Hi my name is alexis and last nite around 12am july 31st my boyfriend acciendtly killed a really big moth. Its yellow and brown and fuzzy. Well last nite I put it into a baggy and the powers from the wings is coming off. And on one part of the wing there is no design, I wanted to keep this moth and put it into a shadow box but before I do what can I do to keep the rest of the powder from coming off. Thanks so much because what u said up above is what im going to do.

  21. I’ve been trying to google this, but have had limited success, so i thought i might ask you for advice.
    I got a set of butterflies as a gift a few years ago and have taken them with me everywhere i move, but this last move a friend and i realized some little bugs had gotten to them and have put holes in the wings and were living on the thorax – gross.
    do you have any suggestions for removing the bugs and maybe fumigating the box? we were thinking of simply untacking the back and putting them in the room with a bug bomb then brushing the dead critters off with a cosmetic brush.
    does this sound like a bad idea? do you have any better suggestions?
    thanks so much!
    -Kris

  22. from head down, i can not tell what kind of butter flie it is eather, when its wings are flat and your looking from above whith its legs down its wings are black with white spots along the top and white bands under neath, then when its wings are up its orange white and some black

  23. Alexis,

    The more the wings come into contact with other surfaces, the more the wing scales are going to come off. Especially if you touch them with your fingers. They need to be handled very carefully and as little as possible in order to keep the patterns on the wings. It takes a lot of practice to be able to spread a butterfly or moth without losing some of the wing scales. All I can say is do your best!

  24. Kris,

    Please don’t use a bug bomb! That’s definitely not necessary! You can put the box in the freezer for 24 hours to kill any insects that are living in there and eating your butterflies. Then you can use the brush to brush away the dead things. You can purchase fumigant strips from http://www.bioquip.com to place in the box that will keep future pests out. I’ve also heard that moth balls help, but I have never tried that myself. Good luck!

  25. S,

    If the butterfly is paralyzed, but alive, you can put it in the freezer for about 24 hours to kill it, hopfully that would put it out of it’s misery. I appreciate you trying to describe the butterfly, but I would not be able to identify it without seeing a picture. If you want, you may send a picture to blogadmin@hmns.org and we will identify it for you. Thanks!

  26. I have a collection of about 40 butterflies framed and in shadow boxes. We just moved to a house with a beautiful sun room and the butterflies seem to be the perfect addition to that room. Is there a way I can protect them from fading while still displaying them in that room? I was thinking of the same type of UV protective clings that are used on car windows or something along those lines. I would appreciate any advise.

  27. Hi Carla,

    Well, I’m afraid I have bad news for you regarding this. There is really no good way to protect the butterfly wings from fading by the sun, even if you try to block out some of the UV rays. As you may know, a butterfly’s wings are actually transparent, but are covered in millions of tiny scales that give them their colors and patterns. Most of the scales are colored by pigments, while others, mostly the ones that appear irridescent or shiny, contain tiny crystals that reflct light. exposure to light, either artificial or sun light, will cause the pigmented scales to fade over time and the more they are exposed, the faster they will fade. The best way to make sure your butterfly wings do not fade is to keep them out of direct light of any kind.

    If your heart is set on displaying butterflies in your sun room, there are a couple of options. You could try to use UV filters on the windows and maybe rotate the shadow boxes out. So, hang a couple of them up in there (as far away from direct light as possible) and change them out every couple of days or weeks. This would at least lessen the amount of light they’re exposed to. The UV filters may slow down the fading process enough for something like this to work. Another option, which may sound ridiculous, is to display photos of butterflies in shadow boxes. It would be some work, but you could take high resolution images of the actual butterflies, cut them out, and use different techniques to make them look 3D in shadow boxes. It is a technique used by a few museums because they do not want to ruin their actual butterfly collection by displaying them under lights. We actually had to get rid of many of our specimens that were on display because they were horribly faded from being under fluorescent lights for a long period of time.

    If you try the first option, you might want to start with a couple shadow boxes that may not be your favorite (as hard as that might be to decide!). Display them for a couple of weeks and see how being in the sun room effects them. You might want to take before and after pictures to really capture any difference. If they seem ok, hang more, but I would definitely still rotate them every once in a while. I’m sorry I could not give you better news and i hope this helps a little. Good luck!

  28. Hi I found a pretty dead butterfly and recently set up a hydration chamber as per your instructions. I used a mason jar, and there are no holes in the top but I discovered a little bug that looks like it might be a baby caterpillar in the container as well. I tried moving it to another jar with leaves though its no longer moving and I think I might of scared it to death in the move from one jar to another..in any case, is this even possible? I had the butterfly kept in a McDonald’s courtesy (tis where I found the butterfly already dead) for like 4 months because I’ve been in the process of moving and just now getting to attempting mounting my butterfly.

  29. Hi Christine!

    What you found in there with your butterfly is probably not a caterpillar. There is no butterfly or moth that would lay eggs on another dead butterfly. It may be the larva of an insect that eats other dead insects, like a dermestid beetle or something similar. An insect probably layed eggs on or near your butterfly while it was in the McDonald’s container. If I were you, I would put your butterfly in the freezer for at least 24 hours to kill any other insects that my be living on or in it. These insects can destroy the butterfly very quickly! If you’ve already moistened it, the freezing process will not hinder your progress, it will actually keep it moist for you, until you are ready to pin it! Good luck!

  30. Thank you for the excellent article. The idea of pinning them upside down seems *really* obvious, but I never thought of it, and I guess no one else has either, (or they’re very worried about damaging the scales) since there are about a jillion different elaborate contraptions to pin butterflies right side up. I JUST built myself a styrofoam mounting block with a divet- but i know I’m going to try more than one at a time, and I will surely try out this creative technique.

    I also wanted to comment in regards to the mothballs or pest strips. I have a one year old baby who has already destroyed one large exotic grasshopper (to his delight) and loves to play with riker boxes and point at the “BUHHHHH!”

    Because of this little creature, I try to do everything I can to make my hobby as non-toxic as possible, and have found an alternative which you may find of value: Cedar oil, dabbed on cotton balls, can be shoved into those fold-it-yourself fumigating cubes and mounted in shadowboxes. Or if you’re using riker boxes, just a drop or two every now and then right into the foam (but not touching your bugs!) should keep dermestid beetles at bay without being toxic.

    I’ve heard several suggestions for natural mold prevention, but am still using Lysol for the moment- though I bet several widely available essential oils would probably work as well or better.

    Oh, and recently I had a large number of butterflies dropped onto my lap with dates written on them like ’74, and I was like “Really? Can this be possible?” – Now I’m certain that the dates are correct- if you say that age is mostly irrelevant to a dried butterfly (which makes sense I suppose)

    - I wonder what the oldest mounted butterfly in the world is?
    Any idea?

  31. Hello,
    My butterfly frame has some white/grey spots inside the glass frame that look almost like snow flakes , the butterflies are intact. Do you think this is mold or something else? How could it have been prevented?
    Thank you for any advice.

  32. Hi Karin,

    My best guess on that is that the spots are mold/mildew, which is always caused by a combination of moisture and warmth. I’m not sure what could have caused this. Maybe the butterfly was not completely dried out before it was sealed into the shadow box? Or the shadow box was left in a place where moisture was able to get into it? You should be able to open the frame and clean the mold off. Then maybe leave the butterfly and the frame in a cool dry place to allow it to completely dry, then reassemble the shadow box. That’s the best advice I can think of. Good luck!

  33. I just found your website and have a question that maybe you can answer.
    I purchased an acrylic case with a butterfly inside. The butterfly’s body does not appear to be dried, but instead looks just like it did when the insect was still alive. Any idea what might have been pumped into its thorax and abdomen to puff them up?
    I have a few Monarchs in the freezer now that I would like to use in making a shadowbox display. But I’d like my butterfly’s abdomen to look as though they are still alive, not dried and withered away.
    Awaiting reply, Rose

  34. Hi Rose,

    Some butterfly’s bodies fare well through the drying process and don’t shrivel much and some do. There is one thing you can do to make sure they don’t shrivel and that is to stuff them. You would have to make an incision in the abdome, scoop out the guts and replace them with cotton, then sew it back up. I’m not aware of anything that can be injected into the abdomen. Good luck!

  35. Hi Laurie,

    I have a butterfly (Anartia fatima) I brought back with me from my field study in Nicaragua (February 2010). Currently he is residing in a petri dish, not ideal for a keepsake. He was a victim of being left for too long in the net :( . As part of the study, my partner and I used Sharpie paint pens on the heads and thoraxes so we could identify sex / age without having to recapture individuals. I am curious as to whether or not this paint can be removed from my little guy in a non-damaging way. Just some rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip? Or is it not worth it? I don’t mind terribly that it’s there, since its sort of a reminder of the project, but it’d be nice to have him lookin’ more natural. Thanks for your time and advice!

  36. Help! I brought a gorgeous blue morpho home from Costa Rica. It is mounted in a glass frame type thing. Sealed. Or it appears there is no way to get into the thing. ANYway, this morning I noticed that the body of the butterfly has white fuzz on it. Do you think I should put it in the freezer? The rest of it looks as beautiful as ever, and I am afraid of losing my morpho . . . please advise, and mahalo!

  37. Thanks to your website, we have mounted a number of butterflies and a big moth (lyssa sampa), which Erin and Nancy kindly helped us identify last year. Because we only collect dead butterflies, they are very fragile and tend to be in less-than-perfect condition, I have found that using a pin to move the wings (step 7) often damages the wings (similarly, with the forceps to open up the butterflies). Instead, I would slide a small strip of wax paper underneath the wing to gently ease it into position. This seems to work for me.

  38. Tim,

    You can try alcohol or dry erase board cleaner, which I have used to clean off permanent marker. I don’t think it will harm the butterfly, but I have never had to do this so I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of advice! Good luck!

  39. Carmen,

    It seems some moisture has gotten into your shadow box and caused mold to grow. You can try freezing it, but I’m not sure if that would effect the glass. It should kill the mold though. A better solution may be to open the shadow box and dab the abdomen with a q-tip soaked in alcohol. The leave it open for a couple of days to give it a chance to dry out. You may want to keep an eye on it though to make sure no pests get to it. Then re-seal it. That’s what i would do. Good luck!

  40. Laurie,

    Thank you for your extremely informative article!

    To all those who want to start a collection but do not want to kill the insects: First, kudos to you! The first step of appreciating anything is to value its right to exist!

    It is very easy to amass a large collection without killing any of the subjects:
    1. Plant butterfly bushes. These bushes attract a huge amount of insects, butterflies included. Keep watch at the base of the bushes. Beginning mid-summer you will begin to find butterflies that have lived out their natural lifespan at the base. Often their wings are still in great shape. Check the bushes at least twice a day as ants will quickly clean up any little corpses.

    2. Take a few walks along well traveled roads (where your speed limit is 40 mph or above), especially those near fields or well gardened businesses and homes. Be certain to stay safe and keep an eye out for traffic (make certain that drivers can see YOU), but the sides of roads are often littered with butterflies and other interesting insects! Most you’ll find don’t have structural damage either.

    3. If you have access to anyone with a pool you’ll have an endless supply of subjects to choose from out of the filter baskets! Hint though ~ many of these insects will actually revive if removed from the skimmer baskets…sometimes as long as 30 minutes after you’re certain they have died. BUT ALL are usually in great shape if the pool is not overly chlorinated. Good luck!

  41. Hi there! I found a Luna Moth today at work and put it in a cup and taped another cup on top. It wasnt moving around much at all when I caught it or all day but when I got home about 12-13 hours later and opened it up to show my dad it flew out and broke one of it’s “tails” off. Is there anyway to reattach it? The moth is otherwise in perfect condition. It’s still alive and I really don’t want to kill it. I thought if I sealed the cups and no oxygen was getting in it would “go to sleep” on it’s own. Can I just stick it in the freezer sniping the other steps? Lol. Thanks for your help in advance!

  42. First of all, I would not in any way encourage killing a poor moth, especially one as beautiful as a luna moth just to be able to keep it for oneself. Their lifespans are short enough as it is! Putting it in the freezer would definitely do the trick, if you must. This moth sounds like it’s been through quite an ordeal already.

    The tails are very fragile and most butterflies or moths that have them and lead a full life, will more than likely lose them. There is no 100% effective way to reattach them. You can try glueing a thin strip of paper to the back of the hind wing and attaching the tail to it. It would have to be thin enough to be hidden behind the tail. In the future, I would follow the advice of the woman who posted previously and try collecting insects that are already deceased.

  43. Last year my 2 year old and I tried to hatch a Luna Moth cocoon to no avail, it was too dormant so I finally decided to let it outside and it decided to hatch as we were’nt watching. (I guess it just wanted some privacy) Anyhow, just yesterday I noticed a beautiful one perched on our ivy by our front porch and he/she hasn’t moved since. I know they live short (week)and we will be moving soon. So, I wanted to keep this for her in a shadow box or even a small terrarium once it’s gone.
    Is my best bet, to keep a watchful eye and grab it as soon as it dies (assuming it will fall to the ground) and I should be able to pin it from there? Or do I need to freeze it first then pin it? Also, how does it not get yukky or moldy once it’s died and pinned immediately, to me it will still be decomposing??
    Thanks for the help!

  44. Jocelyn,

    You can try to watch it and wait until it dies, although it’s very possible that it will fly off to another location before it dies. If you are able to find it when it dies, you can pin it right away. You don’t have to put it in the freezer. You would only want to put it in the freezer to keep it moist, if you weren’t able to pin it right away. When insects die, if left out in the open in a dry area, the fluids will dry up, out of their bodies and you will be left with a dry, stiff insect. If you keep it somewhere that is too moist or humid, it will mold and possibly rot. So just be sure you keep it in a cool dry place until it is all dried out (a couple of days), then you can put it in a shawod box or something like that. I hope this helps!

  45. Hello! I am wanting to get into displaying. I will probably end up buying specimens, as I live in a city. Could you give me any direction as to where I could find nice double pained glass and wood shadow boxes to put them in? I have a small collection now of bugs Ive found in different stores and love the look of the double pained box.

  46. I am interested in starting a collection of butterflies in glass shadow boxes. I want to buy several different butterflies from around the world but am having a hard time locating a place that I can buy them. I was wondering if you might be able to help. I was also wondering what type of glue I might use to place them on the glass that won’t damage the butterfly. This article was great and very informative. Thank you

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