Spreading Insect Wings

A spread luna moth, with spreading board in the background.

A spread luna moth, with spreading board in the background.

Click here for a step by step photo guide to spreading insect wings:

Guide: Spreading Insect Wings (pdf file)
Luna moths with wings spread.

Luna moths with wings spread on a spreading board.

Patterning and wing venation is an important feature for the identification of many insects, especially butterflies and moths.  For this reason, entomologists frequently ‘spread’ the wings of the insects collected, securing them in an open position so they will dry with wings open.  In general, entomologists always spread the wings of lepidopterans (butterflies and moths), and often of the orders Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies), Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, and ants), and one wing of some Orthoptera (grasshoppers) and Mantodea (mantises), among others.

A pinned tiger moth with wings spread.

A pinned tiger moth with wings spread.

Back to the techniques section.

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