Building up a collection

Phasmiden im KastenBuilding up a phasmid collection is very spacy and financially consuming, especially if more than just one couple of each species is contained. In particular, many of the large species, which reach lengths exceeding 20 cm, fill a usual cabinet-drawer with only a few specimens and some giant like Phobaeticus serratipes (Gray) may not fit into standard-sized cabinets or storage boxes at all, if the legs are strechted out. This is, why one should right from the beginning take the preferred position of the long legs and antennae into consideration. Generally folded legs will allow to store more specimens in a box or cabinet drawer and decrease the risk of limbs to brake off when the specimen is handled. This is also an alternative for the case that finances are limited and of advantage for taxonomic study and examination e.g. with a stero-microscope. Furthermore, space in ones cabinet can be saved by pinning the specimens in close to another. Usually specimens are arranged from left to right, and in rows from top to bottom.


Storage of specimens

Phasmiden KastenThe pinned and labelled specimens are best placed in plastic or wooden entomological cabinet-drawers with a glass topping, which can be obtained from various entomological suppliers or natural history traders. Due to the large size of phasmids, formats smaller than the standard 51 x 42 x 6 cm are unsuitable for the phasmid collection. The extra high cabinets used for large rhinoceros-beetles with a height of 7cm or 8 cm are not required, as long as this is taken into consideration when the specimens are set; they will not fit in the 6 cm cabinets if the long legs are angled too much. As 51 x 42 x 6 cm is the most commonly used size it is recommended to use these. Larger formats will also do, but are more bulky to handle. The drawers should have well-fitting lids and kept away from direct sunlight.
Eggs are best stored in clear gelatin capsules pinned below or alongside the relevant cabinet specimens, with a data label attached to the pin. Other possibilities are to mount them on a piece of card or immerse in 70% ethanol.





PinsPhasmiden im Kasten

Generally specimens should be pinned in the cabinet-drawer withouth contact to the floor. This protects the specimens from parasites, as dermestid beetles are unable to climb up the smooth surface of an insect pin. When the specimen rotates on the pin a small drop of glue can be placed where the pin protrudes from the metsternum. In the cabinet drawer all specimens over 10 cm long should have a fine pin (size 00 or 0) placed on each side of the abdomen to prevent the insect to rotate and damage other specimens or get damaged when handled. Depending on the size of the phasmids, stainless insect-pins with chemo-resistant heads are used in the following sizes: No. 1 (for small or very thin phasmids like Gratidia), No. 2 (for Ramulus, Sipyloidea or thin males), No. 3 (e.g. for Lonchodes, Aretaon, Phyllium and all other species with a maximum body length of 15 cm), or No. 4 (for very large and massive phasmids like e.g. Heteropteryx, Haaniella, Pharnacia or Eurycnema).



Protection agains parasites


Phasmiden im Kasten

The dried phasmids are prone to attack by dermestid beetles, mites, moths and other pests, everytime the drawer is opened. This can be prevented by placing naphtalene crystals or moth-balls in each drawer, but the moth-balls need to be fixed in a corner of the drawer with pins, to prevent them from destroying the fragile dred phasmids. Also small pices of dichlorvos/Vapona-impregnated insecticidal strip may be pinned into each drawer, but care must be taken as this is toxic, with potential health hazards. Another less toxic option is the use of camphor crystals, of which unrefined camphor is more satisfactory. There are several other more or less hazardous chemicals which may be used to fumigate cabinet-drawers, but these are here not further discussed. Some cabinet-drawers have special compartments in a corner for this purpose, or suitable containers may be purchased from entomological suppliers and placed in the corner of each drawer.




UtensilienFor future reference it is important to include a data label with each specimen, which can be attached to the specimens pin. The label(s) should include locality, habitat, foodplant if known, the collector´s name and the date. If not wild-caught the label(s) should at least state the origin of the culture-stock, date and breeder´s name. A separate label should state the scientific name (if identified) and name of the person who identified the specimen. The use of a separate label for identifications has the advantage that they can be added later without removing or re-printing any labels already attached to the specimens. Framed labels can for example be made with the help of the PC-programme “Excel”. Professional software for the layout of different types of labels can also be purchased from entomological suppliers (e.g. Bioform). It is recommended to use thin card instead of usual printing paper as this is more stable. Furthermore, identification labels can be pinned into the cabinet-drawers underneath each species, using neat, small pins e.g. lills.

For larger collections it is useful to number the specimens. This does however not mean that all details should only be recorded in a separate register, since registers can easily become lost or separated from the collection. Apart from an individual number each specimen must have a data label attached as well. Nevertheless, in times that almost everybody has a computer, it is wise to record all numbers and collecting data in an electronic data-base (e.g. Excel). For numbering a collection it has proven best to use a combination of specific and individual numbers. This means, that each species is given a number and an individual number is given to each specimen of the concerned species (e.g. 0124-6).




Recommended equipment:

The following is a list of equipment which is barely recommended and useful for preserving phasmids and/or building up a collection

- entomological pins (with chemo-resistant nylon-heads). Sizes: 00, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, (7).
- usual pins (stainless)
- neat small pins (e.g. lills) for fixing labels in the cabinet drawers
- pair of strong tweezers or forceps (e.g. for grasping pins)
- pair of neat tweezers
- 2 pairs of flexible tweezers (with pointed and broad, rounded tips)
- 2 entomological preparation pins (with straight and curved point)
- a pair of small entomological scissors with pointed tips
- pointed scalpel or razor-blades
- clear gelatin capsules, sizes 2, 0 & 000 („Capsulae operculatae“ from Pohl or Pharmapol)
- small syringe and hypodermic needles or drain tubes (size 0)
- chemo-resistant foam or polystyrene plates in different sizes
- wooden or plastic insect drawers, most commonly used size 51 x 42 x 6 cm
- entomological transport boxes
- wooden butterfly setting boards (two sizes: for small and broad specimens)
- digital caliper or ruler
- entomological magnifying lense
- moth-balls or naphthalene for protection of preserved specimens agains parasites