How to preserve a dead butterfly
Butterflies are very appealing, and collectors like keeping a variety of species to examine their wing patterns. If you find a dead butterfly or catch one, you may either pin it in a display box or enclose it in a transparent epoxy resin. No matter how you display your butterfly, you must first install it in the desired place. When you’re done, you’ll have a stunning show that will last a lifetime!
1. Butterfly Mounting
1. For 2-7 days, place the butterfly in a container with a damp paper towel. When butterflies die, their bodies become incredibly fragile and will easily break apart if they are not loosened. Wet a paper towel and place it on the bottom of a glass jar with a lid. To prevent mold from growing, pour 1 teaspoon (4.9 mL) of antiseptic like Lysol into the bottom. Place the butterfly in the jar and cover with a lid for 2-7 days.
- Smaller butterflies, about 1–3 inches (2.5–7.6 cm) in length, may relax in as little as two days, whereas bigger butterflies can take up to a week.
If your butterfly does not fit in a jar, a plastic container with a lid will suffice.
2. Insert a mounting pin into the butterfly’s thorax. Once the butterfly is calm, gently remove it from the glass jar and insert an insect mounting pin into the butterfly’s thorax, or center body region. If the butterfly’s wings aren’t already open, use spade-tip forceps to gently spread them apart. Insert the pin so that one-third of its length protrudes from the bottom of your butterfly.
- Insect mounting pins are available for purchase online or in specialist science and lab equipment retailers.
- Insect pins are available in a variety of sizes, but you just need #2 or #3 pins with a diameter of around 150 in (0.51 mm).
3. Place the butterfly’s body on the spreader board. Spreading boards are used to preserve insects so that their wings may be stretched out to dry. Using your fingers or a pair of forceps, grab the butterfly by the body and set it in the middle of the spreading board. To keep the pin in place, insert it approximately 12 in (1.3 cm) into the board. Slide the butterfly’s body down the pin until the wings are flush with the board’s sides.
- Spreading boards are available in fixed and adjustable sizes online.
4. Spread and pin the upper wings out so they are perpendicular to the body of the butterfly. Insert a pin into the major vein along the top of the butterfly’s wing, around 14–12 in (0.64–1.27 cm) from its body. Hold the butterfly’s body stable with your non-dominant hand and gently draw the upper wing open with your dominant hand using the pin. Stick the pin into the board when the underside of the wing forms a 90-degree angle with the butterfly’s body. Rep the procedure on the other side of the butterfly.
- Touching the butterfly’s wings with your hands may cause the scales to fall off.
5. The lower wings should be opened until the design matches the top wings. After you’ve attached the upper wings to the mounting board, gently place another pin on the top edge of the bottom wing. Instead of piercing the butterfly’s wing, gently push it open. Slide the lower wings beneath the upper wings until their patterns match.
- The lower wings do not need pins to be attached.
6. Using a piece of wax paper, keep the wings flat. Cut two pieces of wax paper that are 12 in (1.3 cm) broad and 2 in (5.1 cm) longer than the butterfly’s wing height. Hold the wax paper pieces across the butterfly’s wings and fasten them with pins. Place the pins exactly above and below the top and bottom wings to prevent them from moving or curling during drying.
Tip: If you’re preserving numerous butterflies on the same mounting board, cut wax paper strips the length of the board and pin the top and bottom of each butterfly’s wing.
7. Allow the butterfly to dry for two days on the board before removing the pins around the wings. Place the butterfly somewhere cool and dry, out of direct sunshine, such as a kitchen counter or a desk. When the butterfly is totally dried, remove the pins and paper that were wrapped around the butterfly’s wings from the mounting board.
- Depending on the size of your butterfly, drying time may take longer.
- Handle your butterfly with care after it has dried, as it will be quite delicate.
- Remove the pin from the butterfly’s thorax if you choose to keep it in resin rather than a display box.
2. Displaying a Butterfly in a Case
1. Insert your butterfly into the display case’s foam backing. Use the pin that is already in the butterfly’s thorax. Purchase an insect display case or shadow box with a foam backing to effortlessly hang your butterfly. Open the casing and insert the pin approximately 12 in (1.3 cm) into the rear.
- You may buy shadow boxes and bug display cases online or create your own.
- Keep many butterflies or insects in your display case, or use several smaller cases to create a wall collage.
2. If you wish to remember the species, label the butterfly. As a label, use a little strip of paper and write the name of the butterfly on it. Use mounting pegs to secure it next to the butterfly so you don’t forget what species you’ve saved.
Tip: Use the scientific name of the species to make your butterfly collection seem more scholarly.
3. Hang the display case after sealing it airtight. Replace the cover on your display case and make sure it’s fully closed to keep your butterflies safe. Hang your display case in a well-lit yet out-of-the-way location.
- Hang the airtight display case. Put the lid back on your display case and make sure it’s properly closed to keep your butterflies safe. Hang your display case in a well-lit place but out of direct sunlight.
3. The Preservation of a Butterfly in Resin
1. Fill a mold with a thin coating of transparent resin. In a plastic container, combine a clear epoxy resin according to the package guidelines. Use a rubber mold in any form that is 1–2 in (2.5–5.1 cm) broader than your butterfly’s wingspan, such as a flat disc, a rectangular prism, or a round sphere. Fill the mold’s bottom with roughly 14–12 in (0.64–1.27 cm) with resin. Pour the resin gently to avoid the formation of air bubbles.
- Resin is available at any hardware shop.
- Resin rubber molds may be ordered online.
2. Place the butterfly in the middle of your resin. Pinch the butterfly’s body with your fingers or a pair of spade-tip forceps. Place the butterfly in the center of the mold, slightly immersed in resin.
- Handle your butterfly with care as it will be delicate and may break apart.
3. Allow the resin to gel for 15-20 minutes. Before it hardens entirely, your resin will initially develop into a gel as it dries. Cover your mold with a container to speed up the drying process. Allow the resin to settle for 15-20 minutes so that it may begin to harden.
- If you let your resin to fully cure, the additional layers of resin will not cling to it.
4. Fill in the remainder of the butterfly with resin. Pour the remaining resin slowly around the butterfly to avoid damaging the wings. Cover the butterfly completely with resin, filling the mold all the way to the top.
- Pour slowly and steadily to prevent air bubbles from forming within your resin.
5. Allow the resin to cure for three days before removing it from the mold. Keep the mold in a cool, dry area to allow it to cure properly. Allow your resin at least three days to cure before using it. When the resin has dried completely, pull back the rubber mold to remove the resin.
- Use your resin butterfly as a paperweight or as a table ornament.