Starting a collection
How to - Manipulation
 
We think the following is the most important part of the relaxing and setting process. Moving the wings, head and antennae, to make sure that they are nice and supple and easy to move, is VERY IMPORTANT. If you get these steps right it will make the final setting of the specimen on the board really easy. If you get disturbed at any time, just remember to place your specimen back in the relaxer, so that it doesn't start to dry out while you are away. 
Working the thorax

Lay your specimen on several layers of tissue. This will soak up any excess moisture as you squeeze the thorax of your specimen. Use the handle of your tweezers, and press down firmly on the thorax, just below where the wings join. You will feel the inside of the specimen start to give as you exert pressure. Move up and down the thorax (not the abdomen), pressing firmly. Turn the specimen over and do the same on the other side.

Squeezing thorax

Now pick your specimen up by the thorax at the base of the wings, and squeeze. You will notice that as you squeeze the wings will open. If you see any excess water anywhere, especially at the base of the wings inside, just dab it up with a small piece of tissue. You don't want it soaking on to the wings at any time and staining them.

Moving hind wings

Hold your specimen between thumb and forefinger, and grab the very base of the hind wing with your strong pair of tweezers. Do not be afraid to hold on tightly with the tweezers as you do not want them to slip for the next step. Now move the hind wing up and down, as though the butterfly was flying. Then move the hind wing back and forth. CAREFUL, you will feel the muscles start to give as you do this and you don't want to pull the wing off, now do you.
Repeat the process for both hind wings.

Moving fore wings

Now for the fore wings. Squeeze the thorax with your fingers, so that the wings open up, dab up any water droplets you might see. Now grab the very base of the fore wing with your tweezers, right where it joins the thorax. Now move it up and down as though the butterfly was flying and back and forth. just like you did with the hind wing. Again you will feel the muscles giving as you do this.

Moving fore wing right forwards

Make sure you move the fore wing as far forward as it will go, even a little further than is shown here in the photograph. But be careful again not to pull it off. Now do the same for the other fore wing. When you have finished you should be able to move all the wings very freely.

Moving head

Many people make the mistake of not doing anything with the head or antennae at this stage (or at all). It is far easier to get these supple now, rather than trying to move them when the specimen is spread on the setting board. Again grab the head with the tweezers, laying the antennae down as you do this. Now twist the head from side to side, through 180 degrees if necessary. It's alright, you won't twist it off if you are careful. You will now find that the head can also be moved around quite easily.

Moving antennae

Lastly, all you have to do is move the antennae around a bit so that they also move easily. Grab the base of the antennae carefully and move them up and down and back and forth. Your specimen is now ready for the final setting. Place it back in the relaxer, while you go and make yourself another cup of coffee.
By the way, If you get disturbed by the phone or anything while you are doing all this, don't forget to place the specimen back in the relaxer, so that it will not dry out while you are way.
  

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