I retrieved some exuviae of dragonflies and would like to keep them safe in some sort of see-through container that will prevent them from breaking or disintegrating. In books I saw pictures of short, wide, transparent test-tube-like containers with a cap that are used by folks trapping insects for identification. I had a look on Amazon, but the closest I could find was containers for spices or stool samples, which are too big and wide, the exuviae would tumble around inside when handling the containers. Test-tubes on the other hand are too long and narrow, I’m afraid I’d break the exuviae while inserting them. Any idea?
I don’t know about the tubes, but it is possible to buy all different sizes of hinged clear plastic boxes, for example, here:
The best resource that I know of for anything related to insect study would be Bioquip. I haven’t been on there for a long time and now it appears they have two websites (?) but see the link below which may have what you’re looking for:
Here’s a link to their original site, too: https://www.bioquip.com/
Why not just a small petri dish? You can seal it with parafilm or even simple ducktape.
I think vials like in the link above are easier to use in the field.
I agree. It was just an idea. I was thinking about storage at home, but even for that purpose, the vials are better.
I collect quite a few exuviae too and have also wondered about this.
I have dragonfly exuviae in tubes, but also ladybird larvae exuviae which are so small they need something else really. Tubes aren’t great for reference access …and are bulky for storage I think.
So a box as @susanhewitt suggests could be more practical I’d imagine. If you are collecting many though, then I’d think best to box altogether in a larger box with a base. I think I’m going to try small amounts of glue on card or card tips as some people do for insects, then pinning the card into plastozote. @chrisrap has some good tips on entomological collections in general here.
One option for many small exuviae would be well plates, like are used in microbiology. They come in a wide variety of well sizes (everything from two huge wells per plate up to at least 192 tiny wells) and materials and usually come with a tight-fitting lid. They are stackable and durable. I imagine a 12 or 24 well plate would work well for dragonflies.
Nice! Yes, these look like a really useful addition for my needs.
I’ll buy one and see if it suits. Thanks for the tip.
A naturalist here in NE Ohio also uses these two sites for supplies:
Acorn Naturalists and Carolina Biological Supply.
Thank you to all of you! Your replies have been very helpful. Vial is the word to search for. And the hinged boxes susanhewitt mentioned look very interesting indeed, if I can find a source in the EU that sells me no more than 10 (a case of 1000 would be overkill for exactly 4 exuviae of Libellula depressa). The bioquip sites have such items as I have seen in books, too bad they’re located in the USA.
dlevitis, do these well plates also come with a cover/lid?
sbushes, is there anything one has to be aware of to keep dragonfly exuviae in ‘good working order’? I watched one fall off the branch into the water below and it literally dissolved; does that mean I would also need to get desiccant?
A couple of years ago (before I even heard of iNat) I found a dead dragonfly, the largest we have in Europe, and apparently a first in our neck of the woods. After taking pictures of it, I disposed of it on the compost heap. An entomologist friend later told me I should please not do that any more, but rather pass such finds on to a small local natural history museum. That’s why I am now particularly careful.
No idea - would love to know myself what the best practice is for exuviae if there are any entomologists working in museums that read this thread.
Thanks, sbushes, very helpful. NHBS’s site even gives me prices in euros! ;-)
Yes, they do. In my experience they always come with a lid, but how tight that lid is, and how much evaporation it allows varies a lot between models. Those sold as “storage microplates” are more likely to have lids that really seal each well well.
Well, my exuviae are now boxed. Not perfect, but ok. For a couple of euros I got a set of 4x5 transparent plastic containers with a screw-on cap on Amazon. That’s 5 containers in 4 different sizes, which allowed me to chose a size that could accommodate them. Turns out size 2 fits one exuvia, and that size 3 and 4 have the same footprint, but are just a bit taller for more volume.
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