Ted MacRae writes the very informative and entertaining blog Beetles in the Bush, subtitled Experiences and Reflections of a Missouri Entomologist. The whole site is worth browsing and keeping an eye on, but his most recent post on shipping insect specimens was especially interesting and I’m happy to share it here.
MacRae writes: “Even though I don’t work in a museum, sending and receiving pinned insects is a routine activity for me. As a collector of beetles with some expertise in their identification, I’ve had opportunity to exchange with or provide IDs to other collectors from around the world. Of course, the extreme fragility of dried, pinned insect specimens makes them vulnerable to damage during shipment, especially when shipped overseas. While properly labeled, pinned insect specimens have no monetary value, the scientific information they represent is priceless, and every attempt should be made to protect them from damage during shipment. Sadly, despite our best efforts damage is sometimes unavoidable, as even packages marked “Fragile” can be subject to rough or careless handling. More often than not, however, I have received shipments in which the contents suffered damage that could have been avoided had the sender paid more attention to packing the shipment in a manner that gave it the best possible chance of arriving safely. Here I offer some general tips on the best way to pack and ship pinned insect specimens for shipment. While these remarks are broadly applicable to pinned insects in general, they are given from the perspective of a someone who collects beetles—specimens of which are relatively small to moderate in size, hard-bodied, and compact in form. Insects from other groups, especially those with large, fragile species such as Lepidoptera and Orthoptera, may require additional precautions to minimize the risk of damage.” Read the full post for all the details.