Thread subject: :: Storing flies in alcohol

Posted by John Bratton on 11-10-2007 16:27

I keep most of my specimens in alcohol, partly because of the number - it would take too much time and space to pin or card-mount them all. And partly because dry specimens tend to go mouldy eventually in this part of the world. Entomologists here who keep their houses much warmer than I do still have problems with mould, mites and Psocoptera.

I find there is no problem with extracting the genitalia from alcohol- stored specimens. In fact it is often easier than from the fresh specimen. The problems are that colours are often very different when the fly is in alcohol, and if the bodies have leaked grease into the alcohol, the specimen will be thinly coated with it even after you have dried it out. That makes it hard to see dusting.

I use 70% industrial meths and 30% water, and it is best to use distilled water, especially if you are in a calcareous district, because calcium compounds tend to precipitate out. It doesn't have to be perfectly distilled water. I use the contents of a dehumidifier.

One drawback is when you want to compare your catch with reference specimens. It is time-consuming picking them all out of their tubes, and because each specimen doesn't have a label attached like it would if it was pinned, you need to work out a system for remembering which came out of which tube.

John Bratton