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Preserving dead specimens?

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When my B. Orientalis finally die of old age I'd like to preserve them for further study, mostly via photography.

What are the best practices for such a process?

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I think pinning them would be the best

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I think pinning them would be the best

I want to be able to pose and position them without any body parts breaking off. Is there some kind of "magic juice" that will allow it?

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If you're unable to pin and position them freshly dead and before they've turned dry and brittle, you can put them into a closed container with some paper towel that's been moistened with water and a little detergent and place them in the refrigerator for a day or two. This will rehydrate them a bit and make it possible to manipulate their limbs without snapping their joints. Don't leave them too long or they may get moldy or start falling apart with decay. Don't be surprised if it smells less than appealing if the roach had died and gone through a bit of decomposition before drying.

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How would one preserve a large adult hisser, for example?

I removed my male hisser the same day he died and put him in the freezer for bariel in the spring (I know I'm strange for having roach funerals, but hey).  But now I'm wondering if preserving him might be better.  What would be really cool is if I could somehow encase him in something to protect him and make him into a pendant.  Or is that too gross?

Thoughts?

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On 2/15/2017 at 2:02 AM, Crazy Bug Lady said:

How would one preserve a large adult hisser, for example?

I removed my male hisser the same day he died and put him in the freezer for bariel in the spring (I know I'm strange for having roach funerals, but hey).  But now I'm wondering if preserving him might be better.  What would be really cool is if I could somehow encase him in something to protect him and make him into a pendant.  Or is that too gross?

Thoughts?

http://www.instructables.com/id/Preserve-Insects-In-Resin/

 

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6 hours ago, KatsKreations said:

I'm also definitely considering preserving my adult male G.oblongonota(my first roach) in resin when he passes away, thanks for providing that link!

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Word of warning, resin is a pain to work with until you get a good amount of experience. It's fun to mess with and if you get it right, you'll have a really nice display piece. Problems you may run into though, are:

Heat may cause discoloration (probably less of an issue with darker species). The resin shown in the link produces a fair amount of heat.

Bubbles. Oh my god, the freaking bubbles. The only reason the best pieces I have look great is because my lab went through a full experimental regimen with resin (for embedding amber with insects in it) and found that after mixing (before adding the specimen), putting the resin in a vacuum chamber dramatically reduces the amount of bubbles. A second vacuum chamber session is necessary after adding the specimen to remove the air that gets trapped underneath it. Even with this, it still takes quite a bit of fine work with a pin to remove the remaining bubbles and there's still no guarantee you'll get them all.

Rotting specimen(?). The only large inverts I've embedded have been tarantulas, and I removed the guts and stuffed them with cotton beforehand to make sure nothing rotted. I want to experiment with a lubber grasshopper at some point to see if meaty inverts will rot after embedding or if the heat and chemicals from the resin kill everything. Personally, I'd recommend removing the innards and stuffing it with cotton just to be safe. 

Resin can get expensive fast. Even the cheaper stuff they sell at Walmart or Hobby Lobby. It's not super high grade stuff like what we embed amber in (you want to talk about expensive...), but for just a hobby, it works really well. 

There are some resins that cure using UV light instead. I haven't really messed with those much, but the limited experimenting I did showed they could work well. 

I'd listen to the directions on the can rather than what they're saying in that link...there are a few things that don't quite sound right in their instructions. 

 

Honestly, I'd recommend just pinning your roach after it dies or maybe spreading it into a position you like and letting it dry before putting it in a Riker mount or shadow box for display. I certainly don't want to dissuade someone from trying out resin, but those are just some observations I've had having worked with it on and off over the past year and a half. 

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On 2/16/2017 at 10:40 PM, pannaking22 said:

Word of warning, resin is a pain to work with until you get a good amount of experience. It's fun to mess with and if you get it right, you'll have a really nice display piece. Problems you may run into though, are:

Heat may cause discoloration (probably less of an issue with darker species). The resin shown in the link produces a fair amount of heat.

Bubbles. Oh my god, the freaking bubbles. The only reason the best pieces I have look great is because my lab went through a full experimental regimen with resin (for embedding amber with insects in it) and found that after mixing (before adding the specimen), putting the resin in a vacuum chamber dramatically reduces the amount of bubbles. A second vacuum chamber session is necessary after adding the specimen to remove the air that gets trapped underneath it. Even with this, it still takes quite a bit of fine work with a pin to remove the remaining bubbles and there's still no guarantee you'll get them all.

Rotting specimen(?). The only large inverts I've embedded have been tarantulas, and I removed the guts and stuffed them with cotton beforehand to make sure nothing rotted. I want to experiment with a lubber grasshopper at some point to see if meaty inverts will rot after embedding or if the heat and chemicals from the resin kill everything. Personally, I'd recommend removing the innards and stuffing it with cotton just to be safe. 

Resin can get expensive fast. Even the cheaper stuff they sell at Walmart or Hobby Lobby. It's not super high grade stuff like what we embed amber in (you want to talk about expensive...), but for just a hobby, it works really well. 

There are some resins that cure using UV light instead. I haven't really messed with those much, but the limited experimenting I did showed they could work well. 

I'd listen to the directions on the can rather than what they're saying in that link...there are a few things that don't quite sound right in their instructions. 

 

Honestly, I'd recommend just pinning your roach after it dies or maybe spreading it into a position you like and letting it dry before putting it in a Riker mount or shadow box for display. I certainly don't want to dissuade someone from trying out resin, but those are just some observations I've had having worked with it on and off over the past year and a half. 

jeez, taxidermy on a roach...how does one go about that? 

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On ‎5‎/‎26‎/‎2018 at 2:40 PM, emmett said:

jeez, taxidermy on a roach...how does one go about that? 

Sorry for the delayed response, its been a while since I was on here! It's really only necessary for the larger/meatier roaches (hissers, probably a good idea with Blaberus if you can't get them to dry fast). You can cut a line ventrally on the abdomen and gently pull out all the innards, then stuff it with cotton, put a dab of glue on the cut area, and seal it again. Let the whole thing dry and you should be good to go! You could probably also do it laterally, though I don't know what kind of damage that would cause since you'd be tearing through the spiracles/support structures there.

Resin note: we found that lubbers discolored over time unless they were gutted first. The discoloration was pretty bad, some specimens basically rotted away in the resin. If you gut them and give them a day or two to dry before putting them in the resin the colors stick much better.

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around oct 20th i put one of my male hissers in a pill bottle with hand sanitizer didnt gut it and  its still doing good, i do not recommend doing this method as im doing this purely as an experiment to see how long it stays preserved, so far so good though

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On 5/30/2016 at 1:18 PM, DonaldJ said:

When my B. Orientalis finally die of old age I'd like to preserve them for further study, mostly via photography.

What are the best practices for such a process?

I realize that this is a really old topic, but I'd like to offer some help if you're still interested! 

Larger bugs like hissers have to be approached a little differently, and there isn't an end all be all perfect way to make them soft for good, but you can occasionally resoften an animal that has stiffened up over time. 

When I pin invertebrates, I tend to use a mix of vaseline and 90% pure rubbing alcohol to soften the animal. Soak some paper towels in the rubbing alcohol, squeeze out most of the liquid, and wrap it around the roach for a few days to let the alcohol seep into its body. I store my "soaking" bugs in a styrofoam container, just to keep as much of the alcohol smell from stinking up my room. 

To gut the roach, smear some vaseline underneath the legs on the upper part of the abdomen to weaken the area. You only have to wait around 10 minutes before you can start. :)You can then use a syringe to pierce between the platelets and inject a small amount of rubbing alcohol or vinegar into the abdomen (personally I recommend vinegar, but I've seen either being used). Wait a few minutes to let the innards break down, and using the syringe, begin to suck them out of the body. Repeat this step a few times until you're sure there's nothing inside. This takes some practice, and isnt always recommended, as it can be hard to get it right the first time. 

If you don't want to use a syringe to "suck" the guts out, you can use a scalpel (for dentistry or taxidermy, they're pretty similar) to cut out the section of the abdomen that has vaseline smeared on it. Make sure to cut only the sides and bottom portion of the area, leaving the top connected, like a door or hatch. Using tweezers or forceps, peel back the "flap" you just made and use the scalpel to outline the abdomen from the inside. This will disconnect any tissue that may still be connected to the exoskeleton you are trying to preserve. Then, use the tweezers to carefully pull the insides out. Be careful though, if anything is still connected, it might pull a hole in the exoskeleton. 

Once the body is cleaned out, you can fill it up with jeweler's glue or jewelry resin. This is not the same as taxidermy or molding resin, which is much more difficult to use. You can also use this to glue the "flap" shut once you're finished. You can always leave the body empty if you're just interested in using it as a display piece, but I think that'd be too fragile if you're going to be using it as a prop or reference for studies. Another option would be to coat the inside of the body with the resin and using tweezers, stuff it with cotton. This might make it easier to soften and pose the body once you're done. 

If you used the syringe method, inject the body with some rubbing alcohol and then with just enough resin to coat the inside of the body. This can be time consuming, but it's probably your best bet, because stuffing it with cotton is out of the question. 

Whichever method you try, let the resin cure in a dry area for at least 8 days. For plastics and metal the resin dries a lot faster, but in my experience, it takes a lot longer on things that were once living. 😅 Avoid direct sunlight and avoid wetting the body again. I like to put my "drying" specimens back in their styrofoam cup while I wait. 

Once they're dry, you can soften the body again just like you did to start off! Use only high content rubbing alcohol (70% pure or more), and wrap the roach in dampened paper towels for a few days. Then you can use pins to pose, or move the body by hand for your photography. 

There is a limited number of times you can resoften a taxidermied bug, usually it starts to get weak and may even fall apart after being messed with too much. Just be careful when handling and make sure to thoroughly dry it out before you handle it again. Store your roach in an airtight container, or a shadowbox with salt/ silica gel crystals sprinkled inside. DO NOT store it in the fridge or freezer! This can permanently damage your specimens and make them fall apart as soon as they warm back up to room temperature. 

I've only done this a few times, and there are limited resources online, but I really hope this helps! With bigger bugs, when you're in doubt, look up taxidermy for fish and sea creatures and do your best based off that. I've found it works a lot better than the general taxidermy advice for smaller invertebrates that are not so juicy! 😂

Again, sorry if I've revived a dead thread... But I really hope you can learn from this and I can't wait to see the results of your work! :D

 

EDIT: Just found out the jewelry resin I use is no longer being made, but the Judikins brand Diamond Glaze is pretty much the same! I'm sure it would work fine, same as E6500 or other fast acting jewelry glaze/ resin. 

Edited by Shon2
New information was found

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