The girl who wishes to form a valuable and pretty col- lection of butterflies must set about it in the right way. The first thing is to prepare a net. The brass rings with handles sold by all dealers in sportsmen’s goods for landing-nets for fish will answer the purpose, but any in- generous girl can make her own frame.
Get a smooth, light hoop about fifteen inches in diameter. If you cannot find one small enough, make it from a barrel hoop. Bind the hoop firmly to a rod about three feet long.
Now cut out a round piece of mosquito-netting about three-quarters of a yard in diameter, and fasten it to the hoop.
The permanent case for your specimens must be a neat shallow box of some pretty wood, with a glass cover. Thin pieces of cork should be glued on the bottom at intervals, according to the size of your butterflies ; upon these the insects are mounted by a slender pin which runs through the body.
When the case is full, it should be sealed air- tight ; for if there is the finest crack, moths will get in and ruin your collection. You cannot take your case to the fields, 30 you must have some small paper boxes in which you can mount your specimens until the wings are dry and they are ready to place in the case.
The best thing for a youthful naturalist to use to kill the butterfly is ether. As it evaporates very quickly, it does not injure the color or texture of the beautiful insects, and it ends the life of the butterfly instantly and without giving pain.
There are other things often used by naturalists, such as cyanide of potassium, but they are dangerous chemicals for young folks to handle, and we recommend ether as being safe, and sure to kill the butterfly. Now swing your net over your shoulder, take the ether, which should be in a bottle with a glass stopper to prevent evaporation, the box for mounting specimens, and some fine pins, and let us start out in search of butterflies.
We will go first for some of the large ones that fly about the fields and by the roadside. A quick throw of the net, and — off goes the butterfly, sailing away across the sunny field. Hurry over the wall and give chase after it. The girl who would entrap a butterfly must follow where it leads, and stop neither for walls, ditches, nor swamps, or the prize will be lost.
Now the net descends skillfully, and the great insect is fluttering in its meshes. Gather the net carefully in your hand so that the creature will have no room to flutter and break its wings. Now pour a very little ether on its head — two drops are enough — and it lies motionless.
Take the dead insect in your hand, touching the wings as little as possible, as the delicate down is easily injured, and passing a pin through its body, fasten it in the bottom of your box. Open the wings carefully, and arrange them at once while they are soft and flexible. A pin fastened between the wings, not through them, will hold them in place until they are dry.
The Mounting of Butterflies:
To mount butterflies prepare a setting-board. Put the body into the groove, as here shown, and then, using a fine needle, spread the wings well, the front wings being quite well forward, and the hind wings well away from the body. Get the antennae in position, and put two pins crossed under the abdomen so it does not fall.
Put over the wings pieces of stiff cardboard, as in the cut, and bind them down with the string. Let them be on the setting-boards one week after you think them thoroughly dry.
If insects become too dry to spread they can be softened by putting them, for a few hours, into a closed jar in which there is wet sand. There are various ways of arranging a permanent butter- fly collection, but the best way is to provide a light box two inches deep and twenty by twenty- four inches square.
Have the bottom of cork, and over the top put a cover with glass in it. Cover the cork bottom with white paper. Insects should be arranged as they are classified in science, each with a label below the insect giving scientific name, date and place of capture, and with both sexes present.
With each ought to be placed the other stages of its life, if possible: egg, caterpillar, pupa, and cocoon, if it makes one. Some prefer to set insects on pins arranged to show their color to the best advantage, but this is not so good a plan from a scientific point of view.