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Protect entomological collections from humidity

Desiccant sachets are very useful in many areas: from the conservation of photographic equipment, through the instruments used in pharmaceutical laboratories to the most common uses in our daily life, such as the kits to save cell phones from accidentally falling into the water.

Today is the turn of the testimony of our client Corrado Cancemi, who uses silica gel sachets in Tyvek for the preservation of his delicate entomological collection.

Here is a collector’s experience using silica gel

“With its function of absorbing humidity, silica gel is an important material for protecting an entomological collection over time. The silica gel sachets come into play in the most important moment: the preservation of insects inside the showcases.

The preparatory stages

In fact, the specimens to be prepared for storage go through two phases: at first the specimens are placed for a few days in a container with moistened toilet paper where the fabrics soften and then taken for laying on a drying rack. It is in this second phase that the insect, after a few weeks, in addition to assuming the desired position, dries definitively.

At that point the specimen is ready for conservation on the showcase. These are boxes, preferably made of wood and with a glass top lid, which guarantee a good closure within certain limits.

preserve entomological collections with silica gel desiccant bags

The relative humidity required for best conservation

Preserved insects need an environment in which the percentage of relative humidity is kept as low as possible. Unlike other organic material, such as wood in which many objects are made, butterflies do not suffer from the absence of humidity and therefore the need to keep the latter constant is secondary to the possibility of eliminating it completely.

Problems in the conservation of entomological collections

Reducing humidity makes it possible to counter two of the greatest threats to an entomological collection: the danger of the appearance of molds on specimens and the attack of parasites on the collections. The latter, represented by psocoptera and anthrenia, are a constant threat from which we defend ourselves with the use of special deterrent products to be included on the bulletin board, but, at least for the former, it happens that a reduction in humidity in the surrounding environment it nullifies the conditions necessary to survive. In this case, therefore, the silica gel makes it impossible for them to spread on the bulletin board.
Finally, the choice falls preferably on the Tyvek sachets which, thanks to their main feature, i.e. the emission of dust equal to 0, allow you to protect delicate insects from the deposit of material, even if in small quantities, which would subsequently be difficult to remove”.

Tyvek silica gel sachets used to protect a collection of Lepidoptera
We thank Mr. Cancemi for the interesting article he sent us and the images from his private collection.
We also point out his blog dedicated to the butterflies of Syracuse www.lefarfalle.info.

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