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Sculptures by Phyllis Bone

Insects: Beetles, Butterflies and Spiders


Beetles of every kind are speedily deprived of life by putting into boiling water, which does not injure those having black, brown, or any dark colour; but those which are covered with fine down, or have brilliant colours and lustre, should not be exposed to moisture, but are easily killed, if put into a phial, and placed in a vessel of boiling water for some time. When the insects are quite motionless, such as have been in the water should be exposed to the air and sun for a day or two, until perfectly dry. In this state, they are to be placed in boxes with cotton-wool, along with camphor. Beetles may also be preserved in spirit of wine.

Butterflies and moths and many other tribes of insects, with delicate and tender wings, may be easily killed, by pressing the thorax or breast betwixt the finger and thumb; and it is preferable to have the wings closed, because they thus occupy less space, their colour and lustre are better preserved, and they can be expanded afterwards by the steam of hot water. Care should be taken that the head or feelers and legs are not injured. A pin should be stuck through them, by means of which they are fastened to the bottom of a box lined with cork, or to one of deal, or other soft wood. Camphor ought to be put into the box.


Arachnides or spiders are best preserved in spirits. In collecting insects, we use either the forceps or a net. The forceps are about ten or twelve inches in length, provided with fans of a circular or other form, and are covered with fine gauze. They are held and moved as a pair of scissors [sic]. The net is very easily made. It is of gauze, or any very fine open muslin, made upon apiece of cane of four feet long, split down the middle about the half of the length: the split part is tied together, so as to form a hoop, upon which the gauze is sewed in the form of a bag; the lower part serves as a handle, and with this, all flying insects may be very easily caught. When the insect is once within the rim of the net, by turning it on either side, its escape is completely prevented by the pressure of the gauze or muslin against the edge of the hoop.