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.


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.








An aphid nymph top view








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.


  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.

  2. Your post is really good providing good information.. I liked it and enjoyed reading it. Keep sharing such important posts. Research Microscopes

  3. This is truly a great blog and appreciate you, We offer a wide range of Olympus Microscopes for laboratories online.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Whenever I read Your Post Allways got Something New

  6. thanks, For Your Post it is very Information

  7. This is really amazing.....Microscope is a tool for us to see things that our naked eye is not capable of. The more it is clearer the more details we see. The usefulness has helped us to many breakthroughs in many fields. Thanks for sharing it with us :)

  8. BIOIMAGER specializes in providing the turn-key and high efficient microscopy-based imaging solutions for life sciences and industrial applications, including epi-fluorescence, biological, metallurgical and polarizing microscopy products. For more information then Contact us:

    Biological Microscope

  9. Great post with very useful information to all thanks for sharing with all of us. I like it very much. Visit: Microscope