Positioning insect specimens using shellac

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NikonUser
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Positioning insect specimens using shellac

Post by NikonUser »

In a recent discussion:
http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/v ... hp?t=25272
ChrisR suggested that stick shellac melted with a soldering iron might be a useful tool.
The idea has merit but I was leery of using a soldering iron and hot shellac, I could envision an insect burning.

In Canada I can buy pure orange shellac dissolved in absolute methyl alcohol. I use it to seal wood for waterproofing (better than varnish). It dries very quickly and just before being completely dry is sticky.
So, why not dip the end of a headless insect pin into liquid shellac and touch it to the specimen?

I tried it with a small beetle. Beetle lying on back, dipped pin in shellac, held it on the insect for 30 seconds (timed), lifted the pin and the beetle came with it. The plan was to photograph the dorsal surface of the beetle but the exercise was really to see if the shellac would dry quickly and hold the beetle. I turned it sideways and photographed the attachment point.

The pin has a diameter of 0.28mm and you can see a very thin film of shellac on the pin and a tiny amount at the point of contact with the beetle.

This seems to be a better method that using lanolin and dental wax.
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.

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GemBro
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Post by GemBro »

I need to practice my mounting skills ... at the moment I'm dipping a cocktail stick into superglue then resting it on the insect to set ... seems to work fine though but is a coarse way of doing it ... I have also tried wire strands stripped from a cable that has 7 strands, each 0.7mm ... but this tends to swivel due to the weight of the specimen ... bending it slightly works to a degree ...

I need to research more .. I'll have a look see on this shellac principle of yours & ChrisR's ...

This stuff .... food glaze? :shock: :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shellac

P.S. Looks like you got yourself a (Red eyed) Terminator Beetle there NU ...

cheers,
Gem
Last edited by GemBro on Mon Nov 03, 2014 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ChrisR
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Post by ChrisR »

That looks good. :D

I wasn't thinking of a "soldering" action to join a pin to an insect, rather as a means of melting the solid, for some larger volume. As in Rylee's dental wax:
Put a blob of it on a surface, and jab the pin in, in any orientation you want. If you don't have a pinned specimen, you can use a tiny bit of craft glue to reversibly attach an insect pin or a piece of wire to your specimen, then stick that to a working surface with the dental wax.
You could perhaps dip a pin in melted shellac and apply to insect, but the liquid/methanol solution looks better for your application.

I've heard of entomologists using Nail Varnish for, er, something. Would that be for tiny paper points?

NikonUser
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Location: southern New Brunswick, Canada

Post by NikonUser »

GemBro:

Entomological pins are your best bet, diam ranges between 0.25mm to 0.70mm in 10 sizes.
Watkins & Doncaster is the oldest supply Co.
http://www.watdon.co.uk/cgi-bin/sh00008 ... 861#aE6861

Not sure I would want to eat it, but yes food glaze appears to be pure shellac
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: 2654
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2008 2:03 am
Location: southern New Brunswick, Canada

Post by NikonUser »

ChrisR wrote:
I've heard of entomologists using Nail Varnish for, er, something. Would that be for tiny paper points?
Yes nail varnish or white glue or anything sticky is used for "pointing" insects.
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

GemBro
Posts: 261
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2014 5:20 pm
Location: Surrey [UK]

Post by GemBro »

Thanks NU ... d@mn why didn't I think there would be something smaller than a normal pin? ... see? this is all new to me ... anyhow ordered some ;) ...
Canon 550D(T2i) ML (Nightly Builds) | Canon 5D MKII | Raynox 250 | Palinar 35mm f2.8 (reversed) | EL-Nikkor 50mm f2.8 N | EL-Nikkor 50mm f4 N | EL-Nikkor 50mm f4 | Bellows | Objectives: LOMO 3.7x 0.11 : 8x 0.20 : 40x 0.65
RiG II - 'Bamboo': Olympus CH Focus Block with Inverted Arca/Swiss | Canon 430 EX (x2) | Olympus T20 flash (x2) | Youngnuo YN-622C Wireless triggers (x3) | Ikea Jansjo 3W LED Lighting (x3)
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NikonUser
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Location: southern New Brunswick, Canada

Post by NikonUser »

GemBro: I remove the heads from my insect pins. The older pins have a twisted wire head which pull off. Your pins are more likely to have nylon heads; easy to remove by holding the head in a match flame - but take care because the heads burn with quite a large flame.
_______________________________________________________________

The 1st mage was with the pin stuck to a small 4mm beetle.
Decided to see the holding power for a larger insect, a 25mm Ichneumon wasp. Worked well, gave a solid sturdy attachment
Image
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

TheLostVertex
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Location: Florida

Post by TheLostVertex »

GemBro wrote: This stuff .... food glaze? :shock: :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shellac
Its quite common. Especially in baked goods that are decorated(airbrushed) and fruits.

Currently I have been using clear acrylic nail varnish for mounting. It seems a lot better than most other glues I have tried so far since it does not get stringy or spread easily. The main issue I have with nail varnish is it is not sticky or tacky at all. Ill give shellac a try next time I have a chance.

Rylee Isitt
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Post by Rylee Isitt »

There's something poetic about using the secretion of the lac insect to position insects for photography.

I too am in Canada, so maybe I'll be able to find pure shellac too. I will have to try this!

Scalyhide
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Location: Riverside, CA

Post by Scalyhide »

There is a recipe for shellac gel commonly used for mounting Chalcidoidea and small Dipterans on points and card mounts. I've used it for leaf-mining beetles, it works very well and doesn't become brittle when set.
http://www.nadsdiptera.org/News/FlyTime ... htm#Proven
Just be sure there are no ignition sources around since a cloud of methyl and ethyl alcohol fumes can make for a nasty fuel air mixture explosion. I've always used an electric hotplate when making a batch.

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Post by rjlittlefield »

Scalyhide, welcome aboard -- and thanks for the information!

--Rik

GemBro
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Post by GemBro »

Thanks NU ... I can now see how it's attached ...

The beetle photo was a bit hard to tell how the pin was attached ...

I can just see the pin, blurry, at the base of the wasp's(?) tail end in the side profile ...

And yes you're right, they will be Nylon heads ;) ...

Gem
Canon 550D(T2i) ML (Nightly Builds) | Canon 5D MKII | Raynox 250 | Palinar 35mm f2.8 (reversed) | EL-Nikkor 50mm f2.8 N | EL-Nikkor 50mm f4 N | EL-Nikkor 50mm f4 | Bellows | Objectives: LOMO 3.7x 0.11 : 8x 0.20 : 40x 0.65
RiG II - 'Bamboo': Olympus CH Focus Block with Inverted Arca/Swiss | Canon 430 EX (x2) | Olympus T20 flash (x2) | Youngnuo YN-622C Wireless triggers (x3) | Ikea Jansjo 3W LED Lighting (x3)
Stepper Motor Focusing System (Helicon Remote)

NikonUser
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Location: southern New Brunswick, Canada

Post by NikonUser »

GemBro wrote:Thanks NU ... I can now see how it's attached ...

The beetle photo was a bit hard to tell how the pin was attached ...

I can just see the pin, blurry, at the base of the wasp's(?) tail end in the side profile ...

Gem
You can see the pin ??

I doubt it,
it is stuck to the left side of the wasp's thorax just below the wings and it is vertical (going straight down) and completely hidden by the wasp.
With the beetle it is stuck between the bases of the legs and again goes straight down; the idea being to photograph the dorsal surface of the beetle.
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

GemBro
Posts: 261
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2014 5:20 pm
Location: Surrey [UK]

Post by GemBro »

Ahh ok I thought the black blurry (out of focus) bit was the pin coming up 'at an angle' shown in your photo below ... now I know it's not ... and very rude of me to even think you'd let that pass you ... appologies ... ;) ...

Image

Gem
Canon 550D(T2i) ML (Nightly Builds) | Canon 5D MKII | Raynox 250 | Palinar 35mm f2.8 (reversed) | EL-Nikkor 50mm f2.8 N | EL-Nikkor 50mm f4 N | EL-Nikkor 50mm f4 | Bellows | Objectives: LOMO 3.7x 0.11 : 8x 0.20 : 40x 0.65
RiG II - 'Bamboo': Olympus CH Focus Block with Inverted Arca/Swiss | Canon 430 EX (x2) | Olympus T20 flash (x2) | Youngnuo YN-622C Wireless triggers (x3) | Ikea Jansjo 3W LED Lighting (x3)
Stepper Motor Focusing System (Helicon Remote)

Sam Droege
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Acupuncture pins and glue

Post by Sam Droege »

If you know an acupuncturist you can get "expired" needles from them...seems there is a shelf life. One could also get used needles and sterilize them before reusing. They come in different thicknesses and the smallest size is comparable or smaller than the smallest insect pins. They are stainless so you might want to darken them to knock off the reflections.

They are quite long and bend easily to better present specimens.

Glue-wise, I am not sure there is much difference among the glues since all will require some drying time before they can be used. I use superglue for gluing on to acupuncture pins (unless I have piercing a fresh specimen) and use use cheap glue gel otherwise as it dries clear and has a good open work time, and we glue thousands of specimens in the lab.

sam

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