How to set and keep Butterflies the easy way.

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Once you have your dried butterflies in their little paper triangles the trick is now knowing how to relax them and set them for display purposes. Use your free samples or common & damaged specimens to start  with this method. You will make stuff ups(we all have) but the rewards are great.
 
A tupper-ware box(to suit size of specimens) with lid and paper towels is a start. Place a piece of sponge in the bottom and then 4 layers of damp paper towels. Add 3 more layers of dry paper towels and then place specimens on them(remove with care from packets with flat stamp tweezers). Place 3 more layers of dry paper towels on top with a piece of grease-proof paper last and close the box. Boil water and put in bowl and stand tupper- ware box over this.(The inside of your container will become nice and warm and moist). Leave until water is cold and repeat 1 more time.  Remove specimens on to a dry paper towel and press(carefully) another paper towel on top to remove any excess moisture. You can now carefully dip the antennas only into hot water, then Inject  hot water into the thorax of each specimen carefully with a fine syringe(diabetic type is fine). Water will shoot out of tiny holes in the thorax so don't panic, all is good. Never let the wings have  direct contact to any water, especially moths which has dire results. Re dry as above with paper towels and replace into box and leave for 2 to 4 hours. Your specimens are now ready to set. Use foam sheets to make setting boards and make many different sizes to suit different specimens body thickness. I use the same plastic sheeting they use in stamp hanger sheets to put over the wings when setting, this allows you to see the wings easily underneath and makes setting a breeze. A pin is pushed through the Thorax(body where the wings are) and then pinned down between the foam boards so the wings are level with the flat surfaces above. The clear sheets are put (one at a time) between the wings and each wing is bent down and then the sheet is pinned.(see picture).Move wings at their joints to the body with flat stamp tweezers and then simply pin down the clear sheets aprox  half cm away from wings underneath. Also use dressmaker pins to hold the sheets and the body straight(a pin each side of the body stops it swinging when wings are moved and pinned) as they are easy on the hands and cheap. The use of top quality entomology pins to set your specimens for keeping is a good idea but ordinary long pins are fine to start with. Store set specimens in airtight boxes* or glass display cases with moth balls *as well as folded papered specimens(not together of course). Happy setting and good luck........Unique Butterflies.(*You can still buy moth balls at those cheap $2 shops etc.) Handy Hint::::You can make replacement antenna with black cotton cut to length and dipped in clear or black nail polish and shaped to dry. Hang by pin to dry. Any other colors can be touched up with colored nail polish, liquid paper for white etc. Attach with black or clear nail polish.
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Relaxing box standing over hot water container. Photo also shows syringe, tweezers (flat stamp type) and paper triangle the specimen arrived in.
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Dipping antenna in hot water. You can also submerge the thorax but make sure the wings do not go below water area. If they do all should be O.K as most butterflies are fine in rain but be very careful with moth wings.
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The wings will open slightly with pressure applied to tweezers at base of thorax to wing joints.
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Inject hot water into thorax  below wing joint. You can do this while specimen is submerged to avoid water shooting everywhere.
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Move wings under clear plastic strips with flat tweezers ...use little to no pressure. Practice on common species until you are confident. Leave space between pin and plastic sheet so wings can move easily etc. When in position pin to suit just out from wings. See top photo.
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