How to Mount a Butterfly


Mounting butterflies can be an interesting, educational and attractive hobby. Since butterflies are delicate, the mounting process must be done carefully and with patience. There are a number of different techniques that are in general use. The method described here has been in use for a long time. It is simple and easy to do. Read on to learn how to mount a butterfly.

  • Relax the specimen. After the butterfly has been captured and killed, it will tend to stiffen. This makes it difficult to manipulate, so it must be relaxed. Use boiled water and a small airtight container. A small tin will do. The container should be sterilized in boiling water and dried. When the can is dry, line the bottom with a paper towel or some other absorbent material. Add enough boiled water to moisten the towel. Now add a few drops of a disinfectant such as Lysol, which prevents mold. Place the specimen into the can and let it sit for a day or two. When the butterfly is pliable, you are ready for the next step.

  • Set the specimen. Setting is the procedure use to flatten the butterfly so that the wings can be displayed. To do this a setting board is required. These can be purchased from a biological supply house or made from thick cork tiles. Two cork tiles, of appropriate size, are placed side-by-side on a baseboard. Leave a space between the tiles. The opening should be wide enough to fit the width of the insect's body. Using an insect pin, attach the butterfly to the baseboard over the space between the tiles. Make sure that the wings are resting flat on the two tiles. Adjust the position of the wings for display. Using two strips of paper for each wing, hold the wings flat against the board with insect pins. Be careful not to pin through the wings. After the insect has been set, leave it in a dry, warm area for three to four weeks. After that time, the butterfly is dry and ready to mount.

  • Mount the butterfly. When the specimen is dry, carefully remove the paper strips. Do not reuse the strips. Use an insect pin through the thorax to mount the butterfly permanently in a display case. Make sure the case is tightly sealed. Include some mothballs to prevent damage from beetle larva.

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