(photo by Thomas Peipert)
Thomas had a question, and Mary Ann at the Butterfly Pavilion promptly responded. Learn along with us:
Hi, I received a post card from you with the question:
Q: Are the pinned butterflies treated with a preservative or lacquer?
A: No the butterflies and other invertebrates that we display here at the Butterfly Pavilion are not treated with anything on their bodies to keep them preserved. Butterflies and other insects have an exoskeleton that is made of chitin, a hard and sturdy material. When an insect dies it will maintain its shape for a long time and if pinned and spread in a display like you see at the Butterfly Pavilion, the insects can stay, for the most part, intact for 100’s of years. Over time colors will fade but the exoskeleton can keep its rigidity. In order to maintain these types of displays with pinned insects in them we do need to treat the containers with pest deterrents that feed on the dead insects on display. Dermestid beetles are a big pest to these types of displays so museums can use moth balls, fumigant boxes with paradicholorobenzene and/or dicholorvos tape. All of these pesticides repel these beetles and keep the insects intact.