What to do with damaged specimens?

During a port call in Hong Kong back in my Navy days, I saw the cicadas on Victoria Peak, which are so colorful that I thought they were butterflies. Later that day, down in Central, I found a road-killed one, which is how I found out that they are cicadas. I kept it, intending to preserve it.

Unfortunately, because it was road kill, the exoskeleton had been broken open by the impact with the vehicle. I, therefore, kept it in ethanol solution instead of dry (as is usual for cicadas), thinking that one day I would repair it.

But lately it occurred to me: even if I could figure out how to repair it (how? epoxy?), if that wouldn’t make it a worthwhile specimen, why bother?

It’s just that it is such an exotic (to me) species, it pains me to think of discarding it. I’m not likely to have the opportunity to go back and get an undamaged one. That’s why I put more pictures in the observation than are strictly necessary for identification – including microscopy of the wing venation, head, leg, and two angles of the terminalia:
Genus Gaeana from Hong Kong, Central, 中環站 on March 13, 2007 by Jason Hernandez
This is my attempt to achieve some semblance of the usefulness of the preserved specimen beyond merely the record of its presence.

For now, it is back in the ethanol solution. I haven’t made up my mind yet.

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Unless you are extremely short of storage space, I say just keep it. If you throw it away, I bet within the following few weeks you will wish you hadn’t.


I have picked up severely damaged shells just because I had never found that species before. Later, I find a whole specimen and throw the broken one out. The cicada doesn’t look nearly as damaged as I was expecting given the way you talked about it.
I agree with jhbrantton, unless you’re low on storage space, it’s not going to hurt anything to keep it.
Sometimes when I find extremely damaged specimens of a very rare species like this fugleria tenera
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/160557643 which someone has stepped on, I just used INat to document my findings and threw out the shell. After that incident it always drove me nuts (though I didn’t say anything) to watch other shellers crunching along the narrow bands of shells instead of walking along the side of them.

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After being in ethanol for an extended time, it might not make a good dry specimen. Might be best to leave it as a wet specimen.


I’d keep it. I have a new damaged bat, wing completely torn that I’m putting in formaldehyde. Specimens we keep don’t have to be perfect. This particular specimen seems to bring you memories of the live perfect ones you saw and I think that is important.

I agree I would keep it as a wet specimen or at some point let it dry completely and put it in epoxy. Either way, keep it.


Definitely keep it!
About 40 years ago (while I was still studying) I was hitchhiking through NZ and somebody gave me a dead weta. I found it cool, but didn’t know what to do with it and after some movings I got rid of it. Recently I have learned that it was a then undescribed species! Very embarrassing!
As I see your specimen has not been IDed, maybe someday somebody comes who can ID it with the individual in hand. And who knows…?

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So my question for similar scenarios: if the exoskeleton is breached in this way, does that automatically mean it has to be a wet specimen, or can the viscera and such be cleaned out or allowed to dry up or decompose to allow a dry specimen?

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