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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Making whole insect slide – an easy way

In the previous post, I presented a modified method of microscope slide making originally described by Schauff.  The method involved four steps: maceration, cleaning, dehydration and mounting.  The process removes the non-transparent internal organs and preserves the chitin exoskeleton.  It allows the clear viewing the minute details of insects at high magnification using a compound microscope.  It does has draw backs, including the use of caustic reagents and the potential of damaging the specimen using picks for cleaning.  Sometime, you may not need to observe them in high magnification and wanted to preserve their natural shape.  I came across a website (forgot to bookmark it.  I lose the link and can’t seem to find it back.) which directly mounted the insects stored in alcohol.  The protocol used Xylene and Canada balsam.  I decided again using the less toxic alcohol and nail polish top coat.

Plastic_package

The first stop is to build a shallow well to create space so that the insects won’t be crushed by the slide and maintained the natural shape.  I found the electronic plastic package material will serve me well for this purpose.  The thickness is about 0.5mm.  It’s not too deep that I had to fill in lots of mountant but not too shallow to allow the cover slip to crush the insect.  It’s hard enough to maintain the shape but soft enough to cut with a pair of scissor.

hole_puncherThe first step was to cut a piece of plastic to the size slightly smaller than the slide but larger than the cover slip. The next is to make some holes with hole puncher – can be purchased from regular office supply store.  Apply some finger nail top coat on one side of the plastic.  Glue it to the slide and wait until it dried.  Pick up the insects from the preservation alcohol then transfers them to the well with a pair of tweezers.  Use the pick to adjust the body orientation and appendages to show their natural position.  Put a few drops of finger nail polish top coat in each well until it slightly over the top of the plastic.  Care should be taken to ensure that no bubble is introduced into the mountant.  Any bubble introduced into the mountant will be enlarged after the mountant dried out.aphid_under800

 

 

 

 

 

An aphid nymph was mounted upside down to show the under side of the insect.

aphid_top800

 

 

 

 

 

 

An aphid nymph top view

aphid_adult800

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wing adult aphid

This post, I presented an easy method for mounting insect onto microscope slide. The method is not appropriate for view the insect at high magnification for certain non-transparent body parts but it is appropriate for the viewing at low magnification with a stereo microscope using the top light.

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  1. Its incredible what you can do with a microscope. It is like peering into another world when you use a microscope. Thanks again for sharing.

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