Longhorn beetle project- labelling and incorporating

Figure 1: Here's one I prepared earlier!

Figure 1: Here’s one I prepared earlier!

Now that the longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae family) have been pinned, and their antennae and limbs firmly fixed in place (hopefully!), it’s now time to label the specimens.

I saved the packets and labels that came with the beetles and pinned them next to the specimen or specimens it came with, making sure to assign them the same number.

Then came the difficult part of working out if the name assigned to the specimen was the right name or not.  This involved working with Dmitri and using the ‘good old interweb’ to see if the names were still valid.  We managed to find a handy checklist of Cerambycidae of the Western Hemisphere, which included a lot of the species names that we were looking for (the ones from Argentina anyway!)  Once we could assign a species name to a specimen, the label was made using special software that Dmitri has and the labels were printed off.  (It was important that each label number corresponded with each number assigned to the specimen to avoid confusion).

Figure 2: I take my label pinning very seriously indeed!

Figure 2: I take my label pinning very seriously indeed!

I could also now assign accession numbers to some of the specimens.  The foreign Cerambycidae collection has been added to many times over the years, but the collector who I’m predominantly dealing with is R N Baxter, who collected mainly in Argentina.  The accession numbers I’m currently assigning are for the R N Baxter collection only and so therefore only specimens from Argentina can be assigned an accession number at this time (F2729 if you’re asking!).

Figure 3: This is a pinning stage; a handy tool in the entomologist's arsenal.

Figure 3: This is a pinning stage; a handy tool in the entomologist’s arsenal.

The labels and accession numbers (if given) were pinned through the bottom of the specimen so that they stuck out as little as possible.  I hope to assign accession numbers to the rest of the collection soon, including specimens collected in Japan, India and the USA.

Figure 4: The labels are very small and look like this on the sheet.

Figure 4: The labels are very small and look like this on the sheet.

I’ve  now reached the stage where I can begin incorporating the Baxter collection into the main foreign Cerambycidae collection proper.  This involves looking on KE-EMu to see if we have representatives of the specimen’s genus already in the collection or not; sometimes we even already have specimens of a species in the collection already.  I then look to see which cabinet and drawer the specimens are housed in before removing the drawer and trying to incorporate the new specimens.

Figure 5: Sometimes it can be very difficult to find space for new additions!

Figure 5: Sometimes it can be very difficult to find space for new additions!

Sometimes this is easier than others, and may involve a great deal of moving things around in order to create the right amount of space for the new specimens.  I may also need to write a new species or even sometimes a new genus label and pin that in just above (for the genus) and just below (for the species) the new specimens.

Figure 5: The Psalidognathus couple get used to their new home.

Figure 6: The Psalidognathus couple get used to their new home.

I’ve enjoyed working on the Cerambycidae collection; they’re marvellous creatures with their long antennae (can be used to pick up chemical signals called pheromones from the air; usually from females).  I look forward to assigning accession numbers to the rest of the specimens and getting them incorporated into the collection soon.

Figure 7: It was necessary to assign a new genus to this drawer.

Figure 7: It was necessary to assign a new genus to this drawer.

The next step for all of the new specimens will be to create a new KE-EMu record for them.  Wish me luck!

 

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About Trainee Curator

I will be writing a blog about the next twelve months spent as a trainee biological curator based at Manchester Museum.
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One Response to Longhorn beetle project- labelling and incorporating

  1. Enrique Santoyo Brito says:

    Hi,

    My name is Enrique Santoyo-Brito, Collection Of Vertebrates Manager at Oklahoma State University. I was looking on the internet on how to hydrate museum specimens and found your webpage on preserving vertebrate specimens in fluid. I wonder if you know about any techniques or a process to re-hydrated museum specimens (specimens are “mummified”). If so, do you mind sharing any .pdf, technique, detailed process? I would like to apply the technique to reptiles and fish, most of them are small specimens. In this case I am on external structures rather than internal ones, I would like “save the specimen” and not discard them if possible. At some point the specimens were pickled but the alcohol evaporated. I appreciate all your help and comments

    ​Thanks!​

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