Butteryfly or Moth

Still buzzing like a bee from my first Taxidermy class I signed up for a butterfly preservation workshop. I needed to keep sprinkling on the inspiration. It was a one day class taught by Divya, a resident Taxidermist at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn, NY. She taught how to properly pin a butterfly to dry for mounting. It would turn out to be a lot more simple than I had imagined. We had a choice from a couple different specimens which were all ethically sourced from a butterfly farm. Can you picture what a butterfly farm would look like? You’d probably have them attached to your eyeballs or catch them sharing your Otter Pop on a hot day. I’d share my Otter Pop with a pretty butterfly anyday! The species I chose was a Madagascan Sunset Moth, (Chrysiridia rhipheus). It was striking! You have to be careful when pinning the butterfly not to touch the wings because the iridescent powder will rub off. It didn’t help that the class was held outside in a flea market where the wind decided to howl through. There was tissue paper flying and almost a couple specimens took flight!

I went hunting for a frame to mount them in and found one at a thrift store for two bucks. To my surprise while there I happen to find a Peruvian Moth, (Ancluris Formoissima) specimen on the shelf for one dollar and took that beauty home too. The Peruvian Moth genus and species wasn’t labeled on it so it was a bit of a challenge labeling correctly. The whole process taught me things about the two species and was so much fun. Now they are shimmering in the afterlife on my wall.

Here are the steps and photos of the process..

  1. Keep the butterfly moist in folded paper in a sealed container and store in a cool place until you decide to mount
  2. Cut a square piece of cardboard or foam core bigger than the butterfly
  3. Grab some pins and trace paper, You want to use trace paper so when you are pinning you can see the wings so you don’t accidentally pin through them.
  4. Carefully unfold the moist paper and take out the butterfly, Try not to handle the wings too much. 
  5. Place the butterfly belly up on the foam core and place one pin through the center of its thoraxThis part made me twinge!
  6. Then gently start with one wing and position in place with a piece of trace paper, Use care when handling wings they are very delicate! I touched my butterfly way too much on this step and it lost a lot of it’s beautiful colored powder.
  7. Place trace paper over the wing to secure making sure you smooth out any bumps before pinning in place
  8. Repeat for other wing
  9. Pin and place trace paper where needed to move body, head, antennae, etc. into desired position
  10. Let dry for one week
  11. Remove pins and trace paper
  12. Find a frame that can be sealed, Remember the butterfly is organic material and if left unsealed the preserved butterfly is prone to being eaten by pests.
  13. Put the frame in the freezer for two days to kill any pests that might be living in it that could harm your specimen
  14. Use two layers of twill fabric along with one layer of white felt in between and cut to size of frame
  15. Use thin wood and an archival safe pen for specimen labels and glue to fabric
  16. Sew perimeter of fabric to secure all 3 layers
  17. Cut excess from edges and glue butterflies into place above the labels on fabric, Be VERY careful because dry insects are delicate! If you break off a leg or something like I did just glue it back on in place with white glue.
  18. Use a hot glue gun and seal all sides starting with the bottom
  19. Use a couple of tacks and string to enable you to hang it on the wall