Tips to make flightless insects and spiders settle down for observation

I was writing a work email when I felt something in my hair. It turned out to be a spider (possibly Steatoda sp.). I had a container nearby that I put it in while finishing the email and grabbing my camera. I’d have liked to take a few photos before I release it, unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be settling down (even with some cover added withing the container) so I won’t bother it too long and will probably give up on the observation.

This happens to me on a fairly regular basis with not only spiders but also flightless insects, so I was wondering how to proceed without harming or stressing the tiny hitchhikers. Thanks in advance!

Put them in the fridge for a few minutes if you have one available.


That… actually makes a lot of sense, thank you!

1 Like

A friend used to always carry a little cannister of CO2, the type used in soda water dispensers, and give lively insects in a specimen tube a quick squirt of that. You could use it in the field. It would put them to sleep, then he would tip them out on to a suitable background for photography. There was usually a stage where they had come round but were sluggish when a natural-looking photo could be got. However, he told me the cannisters are no longer sold in Britain because people were using them as weapons.

1 Like

Hope people never figure out how to use cricket bats as weapons LOL.

You can use bike pump cannisters… but in my experience it’s not so easy to do without seemingly causing harm to wings and things, due to the high pressure / amount needed to knock the insect out. It really depends on the insect though - e.g. hymenoptera seem to fare a lot better than diptera.

Refrigeration also works for some not others though - pretty useless on Ichneumons!
The UK Ichneumon group on Facebook suggest putting them in a plastic baggie and then just trapping it between the layers to do live microscopy.

This was my CO2 setup - a bike pump, part of an old inner tube and a chutney pot from an Indian takeaway. The pressure would sometimes pop the top off the container though…so it’s not a great design.


This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.