Insects are fascinating creatures, and, as macabre as it might seem, their dead bodies are often mounted and displayed either as decorations or artistic projects. Killing and mounting insects enables people to study insects up close in a way that just isn’t possible when they’re alive and active. However, if you want to mount an insect, you need to be cautious about the way that you kill it. A squashed fly isn’t very interesting to look at.
The easiest method of killing an insect that you plan to mount is to capture it in a jar and place it in a freezer for a few hours. You should avoid filling jars with multiple types of insects as they will tend to die at different rates, leaving the larger ones alive to devour the smaller ones, which tend to die quicker. You can also create a ‘killing jar’ by placing a few strips of paper towel soaked in nail polish remover in a pint-sized or smaller jar. You only need a few drops of the active ingredient – ethyl acetate – to generate enough fumes to kill most insects.
Alcohol is also an excellent killing fluid for dispatching soft-bodied insects and is also an ideal fluid for storing preserved specimens. Some specimens will need to be preserved in a different solution before you place them in alcohol. The higher the concentration of alcohol, the more effective it will be for killing and preserving the insects. If the concentration is too low, some preserved specimens will lose their colour or even begin to turn black. Note that alcohol evaporates quickly, so you need to ensure that any containers you use to store insects in alcohol are tightly sealed. You may find that you need to replenish the fluid periodically, regardless.