Tiger lovin’

It seems I’m not the only one that finds tiger beetles irresistible. Gorgeous colors, long legs, and big eyes, they captivate me endlessly with their big, toothy jaws and charismatic behaviors. I blather incessantly about them, but today I’m going to do something that I rarely do here—shut up and let somebody else do the talking!

First up is Troy Bartlett (author of Nature Close-ups), who has just posted some stunning photographs of the super rare Cicindelidia highlandensis (Highlands Tiger Beetle) taken during his recent trip to Florida. I’ve photographed this species before, but not as well as Troy—the face shot he got has me green with envy!

Scarcely three minutes after Troy posted his photos, Delbert La Rue (author of Crooked Beak Workshop), a coleopterist who has studied scarabs for most of his life, shows that he too has fallen prey to the tigers’ charms. It’s a sad thing when collectors pin tiger beetles and put them in a collection drawer without doing anything to protect those stunning colors and amazingly intricate white markings. Delbert describes in detail just how he accomplishes this task, a beautifully prepared unit tray of the Willcox Playa classic Habroscelimorpha fulgoris erronea (Willcox Tiger Beetle) serving as proof of his technique. What mojo!

Please visit both of these blogs and let the authors know you’re down with their tiger lovin’!

4 thoughts on “Tiger lovin’

  1. Ted, I use ethyl acetate or acetone for degreasing as well , but it does not always work to my satisfaction. I wonder if that other stuff works better? Also, do you run it through that many baths? I find it either works the first time or it never works no matter how many times I repeat the process.

    • Ethyl acetate is good for specimens that are still fresh, but if they’ve dried out it is not as effective. Acetone, hexane, and ether are more powerful, I suspect, but each has drawbacks for my purposes (availability and flammability being the most important).

      I collect specimens in vials with drops of ethyl acetate on tissue to form a killing vapor and store them in those same vials. The specimens stay fresh as long as the vial is well sealed, and when I’m ready to degrease I simply remove the cap, top off with ethyl acetate, and re-seal. If there aren’t a lot of specimens in the vial then one bath for several days is enough, more specimens may require additional changes of liquid. I just keep doing it until the liquid stops turning yellow, and then I can mount the specimens.


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