Starting a collection
How to - Spreading your specimen

Right, here we go then. It is the easiest thing in the world to do, practice and patience makes perfect.

Pinning butterfly to setting board
Firstly get the right sized setting board, you do not want the wings of your butterfly hanging off the sides of the board when you have finished. Place the tip of the pin in the centre of the groove of your setting board and press down so that the pin is firmly stuck in the cork at the bottom of the groove and at right angles to it. Slide the specimen down the pin so that the bottom of the wings are level with the top of the board, you can make a final adjustment of this at the end of the setting process.
Holding Down Left Fore Wing

Cut up some of your tracing paper to the right size and place a piece on top of the left wing as shown. Then use your large darning needle to move the body of the insect back to the right, a little past vertical on the board. 

Holding Body in Place
We take the body just that little bit further to the right side, because as you move the left  fore wing upwards, it will tend to pull the thorax and the abdomen to the left as well.
Moving Left Fore Wing into Place
Now, using your setting needle, insert the micro pin between the two veins on the leading edge of the forewing. This is the strongest part of the wing, and by doing this it will allow you to drawer the wing fully forward and into place. If you insert the micro pin in the right place it actually pushes the veins apart slightly, so that when you remove the pin, the veins will close up again. Some people use a blunt setting needle to actually push the wing forward. Or another excellent method is to use a pair of stamp collectors tweezers, the ones with the spayed and flattened ends. With these you can actually grip the wing from the top and pull it into place. With practice you will do no damage whatsoever to the wing. 
Moving the right fore wing into place
OK. Hold the paper and wing in place with your thumb or finger (gently you don't want to rub off any scales), while you put in 3 or 4 pins (the short ones) to hold it in place. You will notice that the thorax and body have now gone back to the vertical position. If they haven't just move the big needle to the left a bit so that they do. Any minor adjustments can be made at the end. Repeat the process for the right hand fore wing.
Fore Wings in Place

Now your insect should look like this with both fore wings in place. Make sure that the fore wings are nice and level and one is not higher than the other. I have found that the line along the bottom of the fore wings looks best when the wings are slightly past horizontal. DO NOT try to set both the fore and hind wings on the same side before the other side. This will pull the insect off centre and is very hard to correct later.

Moving Left Hand Hind Wing
With your setting needle, (or tweezers) move the left hand hind wing into place. There is a very solid vein right at the base of the wing. You can push against this to move the wing if you like.
Almost There

Like this. Now you are almost finished spreading the wings into place.

Wings in Place

Repeat the process for the other hind wing, and your specimen should look just like this, with it's wings in the correct position, and held down nice and firmly with the paper and pins. I hope you used the short pins, as these give you a bit more room to move from now on. Now is the time to make any small adjustments to the thorax so that it is vertical to the wings. Just lever it slightly one way or the other with your large darning needle.

Adjusting Head

Now let's move the head into position. Insert a long pin sideways on top of the head, so that the head lies nicely horizontal. You may have to adjust the angle of the pin to get the head just right. You may even to have to use 2-3 pins to do this.

Adjusting Left Hand Antennae
Move the left antennae so that it is under the paper and adjust it, so that it looks just right. I have always preferred to have the antennae under the paper. I know some people set it in place on top, but this way seems to me to be much easier to control. Place a pin on either side of the antennae to hold it in place. These pins also help to hold the fore wing down, so place one of them as close to the leading edge of the fore wing as you can.
Both Antennae in Place
Repeat the process for the right side antennae. Make any minor adjustments to either antennae at this time, so that they look nice and evenly placed. Now at this time you have two options, you can either glue the wings in place or not. It is entirely up to you.
This will ensure that the wings never sag or droop down at a later date. This is apt to happen with relaxed specimens, especially large winged species. The choice is yours though, whether you choose to do this or not. Some collectors will think you have just committed the worst "sin" ever, while others will be in full agreement. I am of the latter. Put some fresh glue in the cap (it can dry out quite quickly, so add some more if you need to). Move the little coverlet (at the base of the fore wing) to one side. Get some glue on the tip of a large pin  and run it down the very base of the wing.
Cloesup of gluing
Apply the glue to both sides. It may look rather a lot at this stage, but it will soak in, and hold the wings in place. Remove any excess with your pin. The glue dries transparent, and if applied properly you will never see it. I think it is great, as from now on you will hardly ever (if ever) have a specimen's wings move on you again.

Cross Pinning Abdomen

Lastly, but not least, you must cross pin the abdomen, so that it is held in the correct position to dry. Get used to doing this with ALL your specimens, fresh or relaxed. There is nothing worse than drying your specimen, only to find that the abdomen has dropped. lifted, or bent off to one side as it has dried.
Finished Spreading

Well, all finished, time for another cup of caffeine. Oops! one thing, Don't forget to make sure all the wing surfaces are held down, tear off a couple of small pieces of tracing paper to cover those wing tips that didn't get covered properly in the first place, as they will tend to bend up as the insect dries. Now all you have to do is allow your specimen to dry. If you drying it naturally you will probably have to leave it on the board for 3-4 weeks.

Drying Cabinet
If you  use a drying cabinet, you can speed the drying time up considerably. We have made ourselves a couple of drying cabinets out of plywood. Quite simple to do. Mount a couple of 40 watt bulbs in the bottom, add some thin strips for lattice shelving, and you have a multipurpose cabinet for drying all your material, whether on setting boards or as papered specimens. Don't forget to allow enough space between the shelves for your board plus pin height, and drill some holes in the top of the box for airflow.

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