Advice for pinning damselflies?

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been collecting insects for a project I’m going to be doing, and within the last few days I’ve started pinning. The dragonflies are all I’ve done so far. I’ve got several Jewelwings, Rubyspots, and Damselflies in the freezer that should probably be taken out and pinned soon, but how do I pin those? Do I spread the wings out like the dragonflies, or do I leave them folded? I can’t seem to find anything online for damselflies, other than a video showing a jewelwing being pinned.

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I learned a different method for preserving collected adult odonates, whether dragonflies or damselflies: First, put them with wings folded in a glassine envelope (with collection info, in pencil). Kill them; I put them in the freezer. Cut a corner or two off the envelope and soak the envelope with insect in acetone to remove fat from the bodies (overnight for dragonflies, a hour or two for damselflies). Partway through the soaking, arrange the legs so they are all visible, if possible, and twist the head so both eyes are visible from one side.

After soaking, drain out the excess acetone and let air-dry. Then transfer to a clear cellophane envelope of appropriate size (4 inches by 6 inches sticks in my head, but maybe they are 3"x5"??), along with a printed 4"x6" acid-free card with the collecting information. Fold over the open end of the envelope and tape it shut, so nothing escapes (like the tiny legs of damselflies, which are prone to break off).

This is explained in more detail in Dragonflies of North America by Needham, Westfall, and May. I happen to be looking at the 2000 edition, but I suspect any edition would do. This method is easier and takes up much less space than standard pinning.


This! Excellent advice all the way around. Odonates lose their color, so soaking in acetone will help preserve color.

Don’t pin them. The generally accepted storage method is in CLEAR cellophane envelopes (note: not the opaque glassine specimen envelopes.) Bioquip used to sell these, not sure where to get them now, I can ask around if you want.


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