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"Bodyshop repairs" to elytra

 
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AndrewC



Joined: 14 Feb 2008
Posts: 1436
Location: Belgium

PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 8:21 am    Post subject: "Bodyshop repairs" to elytra Reply with quote

So I know there are some experts out there in working with insects and I need some bodywork repair advice.

I thought I'd take my relaxing and repositioning to new depths and try opening some wing cases (elytra) and spreading the flight wings on some beetles. Seems I might have got a bit heavy handed on this Chrysochroa subject and the shoulders of the elytra have crumpled - looks just like the wing of a car after a fender bender !

Anyways, I'll let this one fix and take some stacks but then I want to try and restore the crumpling. Any suggestions ? I might just try pressure with a cotton bud from the rear side against a pad on the front side . It would be helpful to try a topical softening agent but I don't think that that is possible.


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DQE



Joined: 08 Jul 2008
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Location: near Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been amazed by some of the details and work needed to prepare a specimen for photography...

Am I correct in assuming that the only way to learn about this art and science would be to take a college or graduate-level course (or, probably more than one course) iin entomology? I can't imagine that one could just learn a few selected aspects of entomology and have enough knowledge to accomplish much.

Perhaps my underlying question is really something like the following: is it practical to become even moderately competent in mounting and preparing macro photography specimens without completing multiple college and/or graduate-level courses? If so, how would one proceed? I certainly haven't seen such courses at my local community college. Yet general college-level introductory courses in entomology seem to cover much more than mounting and preparing specimens.

Perhaps trying to obtain such knowledge and experience is analogous to trying to become an effective neurosurgeon merely by learning some basic surgical skills...
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DQE wrote:
Perhaps trying to obtain such knowledge and experience is analogous to trying to become an effective neurosurgeon merely by learning some basic surgical skills...

I think in this case it's more like a mortician, but a lot less challenging and lower stakes. As far as mounting is concerned, one effective way to learn is to just try it, and then if/when things don't work out as you hoped, pose a question to the group. It's easiest if you start with fresh specimens; relaxed ones are more challenging. As for training required, some of my best mounts were done back in 7th grade.

--Rik
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Craig Gerard



Joined: 01 May 2010
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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andrew,

Can you further define "crumpling" as referred to in this context? Are you referring to contraction?

Gin and a fine brush are often used for relaxing small areas of a specimen. What are you currently using as a pinning board, looks like some form of polystryrene?


Craig
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DQE



Joined: 08 Jul 2008
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Location: near Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rjlittlefield wrote:
DQE wrote:
Perhaps trying to obtain such knowledge and experience is analogous to trying to become an effective neurosurgeon merely by learning some basic surgical skills...

I think in this case it's more like a mortician, but a lot less challenging and lower stakes. As far as mounting is concerned, one effective way to learn is to just try it, and then if/when things don't work out as you hoped, pose a question to the group. It's easiest if you start with fresh specimens; relaxed ones are more challenging. As for training required, some of my best mounts were done back in 7th grade.

--Rik


Thanks for the reply. Sounds a bit like macro photography itself. While there are a few good books, one just has to get out and do it, aided of course by macro internet/forums (is "fora" as plural of "forum" as it would be in Latin?).

Hmmm...I guess this means I need to take the 7th grade over! (insert friendly grins here) That might be more stressful than enrolling or auditing a college or university entomology course

I wonder if there would be a market for a (self-published?) book or booklet on "how to mount and prep bugs for photography"? Yet it seems like something that must be learned hands-on.
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elf



Joined: 18 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Craig Gerard wrote:
Gin and a fine brush are often used for relaxing small areas of a specimen.

Craig


I think he wanted to relax the specimen not himself Rolling Eyes
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AndrewC



Joined: 14 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DQE wrote:
rjlittlefield wrote:
DQE wrote:
Perhaps trying to obtain such knowledge and experience is analogous to trying to become an effective neurosurgeon merely by learning some basic surgical skills...

I think in this case it's more like a mortician, but a lot less challenging and lower stakes. As far as mounting is concerned, one effective way to learn is to just try it, and then if/when things don't work out as you hoped, pose a question to the group. It's easiest if you start with fresh specimens; relaxed ones are more challenging. As for training required, some of my best mounts were done back in 7th grade.

--Rik


Thanks for the reply. Sounds a bit like macro photography itself. While there are a few good books, one just has to get out and do it, aided of course by macro internet/forums (is "fora" as plural of "forum" as it would be in Latin?).

Hmmm...I guess this means I need to take the 7th grade over! (insert friendly grins here) That might be more stressful than enrolling or auditing a college or university entomology course

I wonder if there would be a market for a (self-published?) book or booklet on "how to mount and prep bugs for photography"? Yet it seems like something that must be learned hands-on.


As Rik said, the best way is just to try it and see. I sometimes think of putting together a guide to relaxing and mounting but there are so many good ones out there I've never got around to it or felt pressed to do it. Biggest problem is that everytime I want to set up a new specimen, I get too interested in the "mortician skills" and forget to take pictures as I go along. Meanwhile I post subjects like this every now and then to spark people's interest Smile

The biggest trick to learn is finding the right confidence of patience and confidence. Patient enough to let it fully relax (and set again once you've finished) and confident enough to apply enough force to "break" joints.

Here's a good mounting one :

http://www.insectcompany.com/howto/beetle-relaxing.shtml

... but you will find many others on the web. You can relax slowly in a humid atmosphere or speed things up by soaking in warm water.

My work flow usually goes something along the lines of:

- initial inspection under a stereo scope
- wash in warm soapy water, sometimes in a small sonic cleaner (it isn't ultrasonic but does vibrate the water)
- rinse and dry with an alcohol rinse. The alcohol is most important if you have a hairy subject and also can help get waxy deposits off old specimens
- reinspect under the scope and clean up with tweezers, needle point, brush, air jet, etc
- give the legs a hopeful tug, sometimes they are already moving
- if not leave overnight in a sealed container with damp tissue (this is usually because it is past midnight and I've got a day job !)
- continue exercising joints until they release - note: leave antennae to last as they are the most fragile !
- start pinning and arranging. Most online guides are for collection mounting and start by sticking an anchor pin through the thorax. What I do is try and lock the specimen in place with a few pins around the head/thorax joint and also crossed over the rear legs
- leave to dry overnight, I don't use a drying cabinet - just an inverted cup (with an airgap around the bottom) to protect it from dust, damage

Craig: "gin" ? Any special brand Smile ? A good topical "joint aid" I've found is household cleaning ammonia administered through a hypo, but I don't know if that will soften chitin. The foam I use is high density PU foam used as packing material. It is dirt free and holds pins well plus it is easy to cut a special profile, or I can build up a jig by pinning new chunks in appropriate places. It also seems to have just the right amount of catch for holding feet in place but easily releasing them later.
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AndrewC



Joined: 14 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Craig Gerard wrote:
Andrew,

...Can you further define "crumpling" as referred to in this context? Are you referring to contraction?

..


Craig


I suppose I should have added an arrow - the surface of the elytra has buckled and deformed on the shoulder near the hinge. Presumably just too much force and not enough gin !
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johan



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 3:11 am    Post subject: alcohol rinse Reply with quote

I was just wondering what people were using to rinse their specimens. Is there some liquid available that can be used to rinse but will also evaporate nicely and doesn't clump hairs?

Thank you
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AndrewC



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:19 am    Post subject: Re: alcohol rinse Reply with quote

johan wrote:
I was just wondering what people were using to rinse their specimens. Is there some liquid available that can be used to rinse but will also evaporate nicely and doesn't clump hairs?

Thank you


Solvents like rubbing alcohol, acetone, or MEK work quite quell. Then you need an insect sized hair dryer Smile I sometime use a small computer or CPU fan propped up next to a drying bug, works even better if you can filter the air flow if your workbench is as dirty as mine !

Another hair dryer I once made for really small subjects was a small aquarium airpump (with the air bubbling through water to clean it) and then the exhaust air hose directed at the insect.

Also get a really fine hair brush and a stereo scope to see what you are doing as you touch it up.

For really obstinate hair / dirt you can try a small hypodermic to target a jet of air just where you want it.
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johan



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Andrew, appreciated. Last time I used acetone I found that hairs seem to clump afterwards, especially on big beetles. For example on this photo here you'll see that the brown hairs at the bottom clump - it had a long soak in acetone but nothing I could do would seperate them. Maybe I just need to leave it a bit longer, I'll give it another whirl.

In terms of drying I just realised that I have a solution at hand, from startrail days. One of those small battery operated hand fans. Should do it I think... not too sure how to filter it to prevent dust though!
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AndrewC



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Try soap and water as well Smile

Sometimes whatever is matting the hairs needs soap to clean it off, then use the solvent to dry it afterwards.
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