Rapid Process Mounting

Sorry for the lack of updates, the summer is always a less leisurely time than one expects. -K

When last macerated and pressed mounts were mentioned the method employed required a long weekend at a minimum, but the entire process can be done in a day. Some people will appreciate progressing from specimen collection to finished slide so rapidly and some are sure to prefer the day by day process of a longer method. For the summer months when both specimen availability and social obligations are at a peak, the following entries from my notes may prove welcome. Embellishments not appearing in my notes but provided here for clarity appear in parenthesis:

8 Jun. ’14 10:00am Captured 5 spiders from under the addition. Collected them into stoppered test tubes finding it easier than Mason jars (a flat of small jelly jars often makes up my collecting kit when working in the garden). Three of the spiders are larger and of orange hue which leads me to identify them as males of the common house spider. Two despite being smaller I take as females of the same species. (The description in the Audubon field guide describing males as orange and smaller than females, while Comstock elaborates at the striking variety of forms exhibited by the species and its tendency for differing specimens to be taken for differing species by novices. The habitat and cohabitating species contribute to my identification.)

Killed them by introducing Ether soaked cotton swabs to the test tubes. One stopper was ejected by the expanding gas and I feel a better poison will need to be collected (for use with this method I imagine chloroform will prove superior and more desirable than for instance, ethyl acetate, as speed is a factor).

11:18am Have processed the three males through to the pressing jar. Each was boiled in 3ml of 10% NaOH until quite transparent. (The test tubes into which the spiders were initially collected were used and heated over an alcohol burner. When doing so the test tube should be slightly tilted to face away from the preparer and towards bare floor or table to minimize danger in the case of bumping. Agitating the test tube slightly and holding over rather than in the flame will also help to prevent bumping.) The solution was then drawn off and aprox(imately) twice the volume of distilled water added to the test tube. Into this was placed several drops of glacial acetic acid until diffusion currents were no longer observed. The solution was then poured off and replaced w(i)t(h) aprox(imately) 2ml of distilled water.with a rubber stopper inserted the specimen was swirled in the tube until near the mouth and then rolled to be on the side away from the water adherent to the side of the tube. With the stopper removed the tube was manipulated so as to wash the specimen into a Syracuse glass.

(Here in my notes is a sketch depicting the motions required to carry the spider from the test tube with such a small amount of water. It is of course simpler to simply employ a larger volume of water but then it requires a larger Syracuse and in the end more potential for spillage. The ease of adding a sketch to handwritten notes is reason enough for me to never adopt an electronic medium for note taking.)

The females were placed into a Syracuse in the vacuum desiccator together with a jar of Drierite to await processing after the males are completed. (I try to work with specimens of a single type only at one time for the sake of simplicity. It’s far easier than one might expect to mix things up when working with only five specimens.)

(After a lite lunch with my wife, which gave the alcohol sufficient time to harden and dehydrate the specimens, I returned.)

1:50pm Removed pressed males and transfered them through to clove oil one by one. Find the first macerated to be a bit to opaque and hope the clearer will improve its appearance. All removed intact and came away from pressing slips without incident. (I use slips of the cheapest sort for pressing and some are never quite clean enough-or smooth enough-to release the specimens without damage. The cheap slips is a compromise I make for budgetary reasons as the spring clips which I use to hold the pressing slips together can be quite hard on the slips.)

2:45pm Mounted the males on plain beveled edge slips from Ted Pella in balsam under 22×35 Gold Seal covers. (I quite like the plain economy slips from Ted Pella, the beveled edges decrease immensely the tendency of chips to form when used on spring loaded mechanical stages.) One specimen became far off center and the cover was lifted and the specimen repositioned under a new glass, a leg was separated in the process but was left in approximately proper posit(ion). (Misplacement of specimens can be upsetting but unless it approaches the edge of the cover should be overlooked as the risk of damage is quite large once the balsam has begun to penetrate the specimen. I properly should have placed the whole into xylene to dissolve the balsam and then remounted as normal but with several specimens on hand I become less careful than I should be.)

3:12pm Slides placed in attic to cure. (If more rapid curing is required a cool oven or hot plate on very low setting can set the mountant nicely in a few hours. I prefer the heat of the attic of my home during summer as the hot [32-35C] dry [below 5% RH] attic cures slowly enough to permit even the largest and deepest air bubbles time to escape.)

 

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