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harvesting specimens photo

November 12th. This batch of pupae was kept indoors. They started eclosing today. Great Purple Hairstreaks are escape artists. I had to keep the door of the cage tightly sealed. I put a dark cloth over the cage so the emerging butterflies would stay calm and not try to fly to the light, risking damage. To capture the emerged butterflies I use a narrow-mouth kill jar charged with a moderate amount of ethyl acetate. For larger butterflies I would normally just reach inside and grab them with my fingers; then give them a pinch to immobilize them. I do not do this with the hairstreaks because they are extremely fragile and delicate. I avoid touching them with my fingers at all costs because they get fingerprints and smudges very easily. I don't leave them in the kill jar too long - just enough to knock them out (otherwise they may get damaged by the ethyl acetate fumes). Then I carefully pack them in glassine envelopes using forceps. I seal the envelopes in a Ziplock freezer bag and put them in the freezer for storage until I have time to process them.

This project has been a great success. I never dreamed I would have so many gorgeous specimens of this butterfly. Finis!

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