One of my guys in particular has gone completely bonkers over it all, so he was over the moon when we gifted him with his own insect stretching board for his birthday.
Its purpose is to dry butterflies and moths in an open-winged position before they are identified and pinned in a collection box.
It's just a little wooden board with strips of cork glued to it. The strips were cut from 12x12 squares that we found in the office supply section of our local discount store.
There's a small space in between each strip. The body of the insect sits in the space, and the wings are held back by small lengths of cardstock, then carefully pinned.
We made one pair of cork strips slightly farther apart than the first set, and doubled the thickness to accommodate full figured moths.
In a few days, the insect will be dry and ready for the box.
A few more tips for the butterfly collector:
1) Be mindful! Never take more than one of each kind of butterfly or moth. If you catch one that you already have in your collection, let it go so that someone else can have a chance to see it.
2) Hold butterflies and moths by their feet, so that you don't damage their wings
3) If you are going to save a butterfly for preservation, you can use a kill jar, or just put it in a jar in the freezer.
4) If you're looking for an easy, inexpensive way to display your collection, check out the instructions for our homemade boxes here.
5) We highly recommend the Golden Guide to Butterflies and Moths for identification. It's full of great information, but put together in a format that is simple and appealing to young naturalists. It's also just the right size to slip in a field pack when you're headed outdoors!
6) Also, in an act of shameless self promotion - the April issue of our Book of Days also contains a lot of great information for young lepidopterologists. It has directions for making nets, information on the differences between moths and butterflies, charts to help identify your finds, lists of butterfly resources, as well as tips on finding and rearing caterpillars. We hope you'll check it out!
Nature— the sublime, the harsh, and the beautiful— offers something that the street or gated community or computer game cannot. Nature presents the young with something so much greater than they are; it offers an environment where they can easily contemplate infinity and eternity. —Richard Louv