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Diptera.info :: Miscellaneous :: General queries
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Sending flies via mail
crex
#1 Print Post
Posted on 12-09-2007 11:58
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Ok, started a new thread on this subject. Give your best advice so a non-collector can undestand it. How do one kill, prepare, store (dry/liquid) and package flies (or other bugs) for sending via snail mail. Hopefullt there are some easy cheap fast manouvers ... and maybe this info later can be compiled into an article.
 
ChrisR
#2 Print Post
Posted on 12-09-2007 13:29
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For non-collectors the easiest way to kill flies is in the freezer - just put them in for 2 hours and when they're dead handle them very carefully (they will be brittle) and let them thaw a little.

I think the easiest way to send flies is in alcohol (isopropyl or industrial methylated spirit) but the main thing to remember is that is must be pure - with no colours or additives that might stain or contaminate the specimens. Use glass or plastic vials with very tight-fitting stoppers and pack-out the specimens in the tube with a little tissue paper (not cotton wool - it gets tangled in the bristles & legs) to stop them sliding about too much. Then just wrap the vials in bubble-wrap or cotton wool and place in a strong, cardboard box for posting. The resulting specimens usually won't be perfect but most experts will be able to extract and mount them themselves.

If you feel that you have time to pin specimens then it will usually make them easier for the expert to handle and will make for better quality specimens. You'd just have to get hold of some pins (from a place like http://www.entosp...) - either fine (diameter depends on size of fly) 38mm stainless steel (not black) or fine micro-pins. Then (while the specimen is fresh & still soft) just pin the fly to a piece of dense foam or cork and leave it for a few days to dry. The flies can then be pinned into a foam/cork-lined cardboard box or even film cannister - just make sure the pin is firmly in the foam. Then to protect it in transit (very important) put this box inside a larger cardboard box and pack it with bubble wrap or foam so it doesn't rattle about. Mark the box "fragile" on the outside (just in case it makes any difference!) and post it using a relatively fast delivery tarrif.

Easy Grin
 
http://tachinidae.org.uk
crex
#3 Print Post
Posted on 12-09-2007 15:35
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If packed in a vial (tube) I assume you pack one fly and stopper, one fly and stopper etc or could you put several flies together between each stopper?

The question about alcohol percentage has been discussed before, I think ... somewhere. I guess the flies should be put in alcohol as soon as possible. How long can you store it in alcohol before sending it? Let's say one collect flies during a period of time and plan to send a bunch at once later?
 
ChrisR
#4 Print Post
Posted on 12-09-2007 17:19
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I would mix flies together in the alcohol and then push a ball of rolled tissue paper in behind them (gently) and then finish by pushing the stopper into the open end to seal it. You could also put some sticky tape around the vial too to make sure the stoper doesn't pop out in transit.

I think the standard industrial methylated spirit is about 75% alcohol and that is fine for months, maybe years. You just have to be careful because the alcohol evapourates if the stopper isn't air-tight Smile
 
http://tachinidae.org.uk
Kahis
#5 Print Post
Posted on 12-09-2007 17:25
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crex wrote:
If packed in a vial (tube) I assume you pack one fly and stopper, one fly and stopper etc or could you put several flies together between each stopper?


Several flies in one vial should be OK. Depends on your degree of perfectionism Smile

crex wrote:
The question about alcohol percentage has been discussed before, I think ... somewhere. I guess the flies should be put in alcohol as soon as possible. How long can you store it in alcohol before sending it? Let's say one collect flies during a period of time and plan to send a bunch at once later?


Around 70% is usually used, diluted with distilled water, if possible. For material for DNA studies, 'pure' alcohol is recommended. Room-temperature storage in alcohol for a year should do little harm - ten years and you'll certainly start to see some bleaching. Low temperature is always better.
Kahis
 
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Tony Irwin
#6 Print Post
Posted on 12-09-2007 18:42
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Always leave a small amount of air at the top of the tube - if the alcohol completely fills the tube, it can expand and push the top off if it gets warm. I agree with Chris about taping the tops on - better than having the tube empty in the mail! Also, it's a good idea to wrap the tubes in enough tissue or cotton wool to absorb the alcohol if any of the tubes accidentally breaks. I also seal the tubes in a small polythene bag. And don't forget to label each tube with the collecting details - written in pencil or permanent pen on paper. It doesn't have to be special paper if it's a temporary label. Ordinary copier or printer paper will do.
Tony
----------
Tony Irwin
 
Kahis
#7 Print Post
Posted on 12-09-2007 18:49
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It is also a good idea to write on the parcel "Dead insects for scientific study, no commercial value". It should help the parcel through the customs office if you them abroad.
Kahis
 
www.iki.fi/kahanpaa
jorgemotalmeida
#8 Print Post
Posted on 12-09-2007 18:50
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Yes, Tony is right. The vial MUST have a small amount of the air *always*. Otherwise, the vial can open... awkward

I use vegetal paper - just in the case I use ethanol! - for vials (inside I put ethanol 70%) and write with Staedtler pencil. Even if the alcohol fall on the paper, the writing remains the same.
I never sent dry specimens though. (that's why I asked for that in another thread... and crex.Wink
If somenone wants to have vegetal paper let me know! This is the best for wet Smile specimens. I put the vegetal paper inside the vial with ethanol and I never had problems! Of course, I have other labels outside the vial. But it works.


 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/superegnum
jorgemotalmeida
#9 Print Post
Posted on 12-09-2007 18:59
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Kahis wrote:
It is also a good idea to write on the parcel "Dead insects for scientific study, no commercial value". It should help the parcel through the customs office if you them abroad.


or it can be "Dangerous. The bite can be painful. Don?t open. We will not have any responsability for any damages. For scientifical purposes." Grin
 
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crex
#10 Print Post
Posted on 12-09-2007 19:49
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Apparently it's a bad idea to send the flies dried and not pinned. A pity. That would have been the easiest way ... I though that if you have a hard box of some sort where you put the flies and wrapped each losely with soft paper (like toilet paper) that it wouldn't get damaged, but I guess you have sent enough flies to see what was successful and not Grin
 
ChrisR
#11 Print Post
Posted on 12-09-2007 21:13
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I've received dry flies loose in soft paper and they come through in variable states - some are OK but if there is any movement they shed bristles and aristae like crazy Sad
 
http://tachinidae.org.uk
jorgemotalmeida
#12 Print Post
Posted on 12-09-2007 21:35
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Chris Raper wrote:
I've received dry flies loose in soft paper and they come through in variable states - some are OK but if there is any movement they shed bristles and aristae like crazy Sad



and the wings can be very damaged. Sad

Sending specimens in ethanol 70% it is very easy. Wink And it is a very cheap way and safe if you use a tight vial! I have proper vials to keep very tightly the ethanol inside the bottle. EVen you shake a lot, there is no one drop of alcohol outside. Smile
 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/superegnum
cosmln
#13 Print Post
Posted on 14-09-2007 18:21
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hi,

i think Eppendorf Tube are the best for things like this. i alwais use them for storing... they are in different size so...
are from plastic so very hard to be broken and they seall very well.

as a question. here is not easy to by industrial alcool. i have buyed alimentar alcool at 87 degrees. this is enough to conserv specimen?

cosmln
 
http://mybiosis.org/nature/portal.php?pagename=firstpage
jorgemotalmeida
#14 Print Post
Posted on 14-09-2007 19:15
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I use ethanol 70% . 87% is a little aggressive. Good to extract DNA. Smile
 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/superegnum
cosmln
#15 Print Post
Posted on 14-09-2007 19:17
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jorgemotalmeida wrote:
I use ethanol 70% . 87% is a little aggressive. Good to extract DNA. Smile


so this type of alcool is OK,
but maybe to put some more water Grin

cosmln
 
http://mybiosis.org/nature/portal.php?pagename=firstpage
ChrisR
#16 Print Post
Posted on 14-09-2007 19:19
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I wouldn't have a problem with 87% really ... especially if the specimen is only in it for a few weeks Smile
 
http://tachinidae.org.uk
Dima DD
#17 Print Post
Posted on 30-09-2007 22:36
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Hi All,
It's a VERY important thread, thank you!Smile
Possibly, a good idea is to show one-two photos where non-specialist can see flies properly packed in the vial, with those scraps of paper...

I think there is another very interesting, important and large topic not covered here (so, another thread required...). I mean CAPTURE TECHNIQUES!Smile Are they different? How it depends on family, situation (e.g. vegetation), etc.? Sharing of some "Tricks of diptera capturing" may be profitable for everybody...
 
http://www.dimadd.ru
jorgemotalmeida
#18 Print Post
Posted on 30-09-2007 23:02
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Dima DD wrote:
Hi All,
It's a VERY important thread, thank you!Smile
Possibly, a good idea is to show one-two photos where non-specialist can see flies properly packed in the vial, with those scraps of paper...

I think there is another very interesting, important and large topic not covered here (so, another thread required...). I mean CAPTURE TECHNIQUES!Smile Are they different? How it depends on family, situation (e.g. vegetation), etc.? Sharing of some "Tricks of diptera capturing" may be profitable for everybody...



it was discussed before. See here:
http://www.dipter...&pid=37688

and here:
http://www.dipter...rowstart=0
Edited by jorgemotalmeida on 30-09-2007 23:03
 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/superegnum
Dima DD
#19 Print Post
Posted on 30-09-2007 23:37
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Thank you, Jorge!
I missed these threads...Frown

Dima
 
http://www.dimadd.ru
Adrian
#20 Print Post
Posted on 20-11-2007 13:40
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''Apparently it's a bad idea to send the flies dried and not pinned. A pity. That would have been the easiest way ... I though that if you have a hard box of some sort where you put the flies and wrapped each losely with soft paper (like toilet paper) that it wouldn't get damaged, but I guess you have sent enough flies to see what was successful and not ''

Please , whatever you do, use material lacking in fibres as they will tangle with setae etc. and damage the specimens. Problem is that non-fiber paper tends to be slippy and flies move around. In fibrous material they simply get smashed to bits.
I recently received several thousand Empidids from Chile, stored in boxes with soft paper and cotton wool. Such a tragedy to see what was once probably a very important collection, utterly destroyed:- maybe one in every 200 specimens retained enough characters to have some slight use but really, they all need to be thrown away
cheers
Adrian
 
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