Subject mounting

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AndrewC
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Subject mounting

Post by AndrewC »

Might be best as an FAQ but how about sharing techniques for subject mounting ?

In my mind there are two steps:

1) Secure the subject to a mount
2) Mount the mount on an easily positionable holder

Myself, I rely on entomology pins for large specimens - basically anything with a thorax a couple of mm's or bigger. Relatively easy - insert pin on an appropriate axis, pass the pin through some background paper and then hold the pin with tape on a small block of acetal held by a magnet on a movable stage.

The pin can be rotated for one degree of motion for subject positioning, the acetal block_on_a_magnet can be rotated in a second axis as well as left/right front/back. The other advantage is I can easily move the mounted subject between an inspection microscope and the camera rig.

Smaller than that and I start to struggle and I'm still looking for a BKM. It will probably be based on glueing to an intermediate mount like a minuten and then attaching that to the acetal block or stage.

Cyanoacrylate glues work sometimes but can also "fume" the subject. I've seen suggestions for wallpaper paste and I've tried flour & water with some success but it doesn't set very fast.

I'm just about to try Isinglass (I think it is made from fish skin and/or swim bladders ?) and also some alcohol based PVA.

Andrew

ChrisR
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Post by ChrisR »

QUestions!
1) How do you hold the subject while you push the pin through?
2) "Small block of acetal"? I'm not familiar with acetal. WHat is it, ok it's plastic , but... Why that?
3) BKM Best Known Method? Or is Kicking involved :wink:
4) "an intermediate mount like a minuten" that's just a fine pin, right?

I gather you're gluing the subject to the pin? A spot of shellac (made from an exudation of the lac insect!) would be ok for that I think. As French Polish it usually comes stained but there are "white" and "transparent" types. Alcohol/methylated spirit is the solvent. Dissolves again easily if required.

A thought - a pin could be pushed into the flexible rubberised "fridge magnet" material, which is available either as thin (1.5mm or so ) strip or the thicker (4mm or so ) strip used for fridge door seals.
The tape version comes with a sticky side so you could store magnet based specimens on a magnetic strip, stuck to anything.

Hot melt glue is also quite useful. There are different grades, eg a runnier one for wood. You can pick up a spot on a pin while it's hot. Sets rapidly, often leaving a whisker, which is easy to snip off.
I imagine you could stick blobs onto magnets then push your pins into the blob when they're cold.

AndrewC
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Post by AndrewC »

ChrisR wrote:QUestions!
1) How do you hold the subject while you push the pin through?
Wishful thinking :) Seriously though, put it on some lint free towelling, wrinkle the fabric to hold the insect in roughly the right position, then poke.
The challenge is to not poke all the way through, while still inserting enough to hold it, and also not to flatten structures on the other side
ChrisR wrote:2) "Small block of acetal"? I'm not familiar with acetal. WHat is it, ok it's plastic , but... Why that?
It's strong and rigid, it's easy to work - machines very easily and can also be tapped, I've got blocks of it lying around :)
ChrisR wrote:3) BKM Best Known Method? Or is Kicking involved :wink:


Lapsed into technobabble, yes - Best Known Method
ChrisR wrote:4) "an intermediate mount like a minuten" that's just a fine pin, right?
Yes, typically tiny metal blades but can also be paper

NikonUser
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Re: Subject mounting

Post by NikonUser »

AndrewC wrote:Might be best as an FAQ
I agree, so why is it here?
NU.
student of entomology
Quote – Holmes on ‘Entomology’
” I suppose you are an entomologist ? “
” Not quite so ambitious as that, sir. I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name.
No man can be truly called an entomologist,
sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr
The Poet at the Breakfast Table.

Nikon camera, lenses and objectives
Olympus microscope and objectives

rjlittlefield
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Re: Subject mounting

Post by rjlittlefield »

NikonUser wrote:
AndrewC wrote:Might be best as an FAQ
I agree, so why is it here?
The FAQ forum is intended as a place where concise and in-depth answers get posted. See "FAQ: How does the Frequently Asked Questions forum work?".

If somebody wants to put together such a posting, then the FAQ forum would be the right place to put it. Presumably that posting will include a link to this discussion, as well as a condensation of whatever answers and links appear here. But at the moment, this discussion is just another free-flow exchange of ideas, typical of what happens when somebody asks a new question, or at least a question that's not been asked frequently enough to have a canned answer.

--Rik

NikonUser
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Post by NikonUser »

Not a technique, but here is some basic equipment:

Headless micro pins (minutens) are typically 12-15mm long and usually 0.15 mm or 0.2mm diameter and made of metal. I have never heard of a paper minuten.

Regular insect pins (Continental pins) have heads, are 38-39mm long and come in several (10 ?) diameters. Sizes 000 (finest), 00, and 0, I find the most useful; size 7 is like a nail. Best used after removing the head, heads now made of nylon and easily removed with a flame (match). The old-fashioned Brtitish Pins are of no use (if even still available).

Pasteur Pipettes, or Glass Capillary Tubes with bores ranging from 0.1mm to 3.5mm and about 50-100 mm in length can be used to hold the insect pin so as to keep the subject further away from the background and thereby eliminate shadows.
SEE HERE
NU.
student of entomology
Quote – Holmes on ‘Entomology’
” I suppose you are an entomologist ? “
” Not quite so ambitious as that, sir. I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name.
No man can be truly called an entomologist,
sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr
The Poet at the Breakfast Table.

Nikon camera, lenses and objectives
Olympus microscope and objectives

NikonUser
Posts: 2634
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2008 2:03 am
Location: southern New Brunswick, Canada

Post by NikonUser »

A non-pinning technique.
I don't believe I have posted this image before.
Dead fly that has been positioned by gluing (Cyanoacrylate) its little feet to a twig.
Image
NU.
student of entomology
Quote – Holmes on ‘Entomology’
” I suppose you are an entomologist ? “
” Not quite so ambitious as that, sir. I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name.
No man can be truly called an entomologist,
sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr
The Poet at the Breakfast Table.

Nikon camera, lenses and objectives
Olympus microscope and objectives

lauriek
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Post by lauriek »

Nice work!

That's something I've thought about doing, but with most of my specimens (killed with a freezer) the legs are folded under the body and seem to have a fairly strong 'memory' of that position, so that they pull away from the glue when I try. Do you 'loosen' the bug up with moisture (iirc relaxing is the proper term?) or do you somehow clamp them in place while sticking?

AndrewC
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Post by AndrewC »

NikonUser wrote:.. I have never heard of a paper minuten.
.
I was probably thinking of "paper points"

Andrew

NikonUser
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Location: southern New Brunswick, Canada

Post by NikonUser »

Laurie:
Killing insects by freezing puts them into rigor mortis. They will often relax after 24hr in a moisture-saturated environment. However, for perfectly relaxed specimens it is best to use a different killing agent. Freshly bruised laurel leaves (the old-fashioned green-leafed laurel, not the variegated-leafed ones) give off HCN gas and leave specimens relaxed.
Also, very weak conc. of ethyl acetate gas will leave insects perfectly relaxed. About 1 drop from an eye dropper in a butter-dish volume works well. Leave the bug in this conc for 12-24 hrs. Too high a conc and rigor sets in.
NU.
student of entomology
Quote – Holmes on ‘Entomology’
” I suppose you are an entomologist ? “
” Not quite so ambitious as that, sir. I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name.
No man can be truly called an entomologist,
sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr
The Poet at the Breakfast Table.

Nikon camera, lenses and objectives
Olympus microscope and objectives

NikonUser
Posts: 2634
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2008 2:03 am
Location: southern New Brunswick, Canada

Post by NikonUser »

Another pin-less technique.
Simply lay the specimen on a piece of glass; requires a vertical setup.
SEE HERE
NU.
student of entomology
Quote – Holmes on ‘Entomology’
” I suppose you are an entomologist ? “
” Not quite so ambitious as that, sir. I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name.
No man can be truly called an entomologist,
sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr
The Poet at the Breakfast Table.

Nikon camera, lenses and objectives
Olympus microscope and objectives

AndrewC
Posts: 1436
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 10:05 am
Location: Belgium
Contact:

Post by AndrewC »

NikonUser wrote:Another pin-less technique.
Simply lay the specimen on a piece of glass; requires a vertical setup.
SEE HERE
I call that a gravity mount :) Unfortunately it only really works if you have a planar specimen ....

Andrew

AndrewC
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Post by AndrewC »

lauriek wrote:Nice work!

That's something I've thought about doing, but with most of my specimens (killed with a freezer) the legs are folded under the body and seem to have a fairly strong 'memory' of that position, so that they pull away from the glue when I try. Do you 'loosen' the bug up with moisture (iirc relaxing is the proper term?) or do you somehow clamp them in place while sticking?
Check out this link (page 46)

http://books.google.com/books?id=4M0v0Y ... q=&f=false

ChrisR
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Post by ChrisR »

Apart from ethyl acetate, are any of the often-quoted potentially dangerous chemicals freely available?

I've tried propane, which smells awful, but doesn't quickly give bugs more than a headache, and dry cleaning fluid (which the local council uses to dispatch unwanted squirrels) which has a range of effects. Often things continue to move, very slowly, until they recover.

NikonUser
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Location: southern New Brunswick, Canada

Post by NikonUser »

No idea what is available in the UK, but NA entomologists have been known to use:
Fumes from liquid "0.880" Ammonia
fumes from solid/crystal Ammonium Carbonate
fumes from Dichlovos (DDVP)
immersion in acetone for about 5 minutes
KCN, NaCN, and CaCN (one use is to kill contents of old bee hives)
NU.
student of entomology
Quote – Holmes on ‘Entomology’
” I suppose you are an entomologist ? “
” Not quite so ambitious as that, sir. I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name.
No man can be truly called an entomologist,
sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr
The Poet at the Breakfast Table.

Nikon camera, lenses and objectives
Olympus microscope and objectives

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