1902 Encyclopedia > Arachnida > Arachnida - Order VII: Araneidea - Preservation of Spiders

(Part 31)



PRESERVATION OF SPIDERS. - Beautiful as are the colours and markings of numbers of spiders, especially of those found in the tropics, and elegant and curious as are many of their forms and structures, it has been found a matter of difficulty to make them good-looking, slightly, cabinet objects. By ordinary care and skilful manipulation, however, most of them can be preserved and displayed very satisfactorily. So much of the comparative neglect of Arachnids is general is owing to this difficulty, that it may perhaps be worth the space of a few lines to remark, that many whose abdominal integument is strong, or pretty thickly clothed with hairs and pubescence, maybe pinned, set out, and dried like insects. Others may have the abdomen opened from below, and after the contents are carefully extracted, be stuffed with fine cotton wool. Others again have been most successfully treated by inflating the abdomen (after the contents have been pressed out) with a blow-pipe, and then subjecting them to a process of rapid desiccation, which in general preserves the colours and marking very well indeed. But the best and most useful way for all purposes is to immerse and keep them in tubes filled with spirit of wine. To make spiders in spirit sightly objects, they should, when drugged with chloroform, or some other stupefying agent, be secured, but not transfixed, by pins to a piece of cork, sunk in a vessel of spirit, in a natural position, until rendered rigid by the action of the spirit, which will be in a fortnight or so; the pins are then removed, and the spiders are placed in glass test tubes, large enough to receive them without too much compression of the legs. A bit of white card is slipped in under the specimen to keep it in position, the tubes are filled with spirit, stopped firmly with a pledget of cotton wool, and inverted round the inner side of a wide-mouthed glass-stopped bottle; this bottle is filled also with spirit, and the spider is then seen in its natural position, and with all its colours and markings perfectly visible. It is also capable of examination with an ordinary pocket lens even without removal of the tube from the large bottle. Large spiders with a largely developed abdomen should be kept in pill-boxes for a fortnight or so before being placed in spirit; during this time the crudities of their food contents are discharged, and preservation without injury or obliteration of colours and markings in thus rendered far more certain; the beauty of many of our large and handsome epeirids can only be certainly retained, even in spirit, when treated after the above method. See further on this subject, as well as on the mode of search and capture of spiders (O.P. Cambridge, Trans. New Zeal. Instit., vol. vi. Pp. 194-200).

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