Storage & Transport of Dead Specimens

1) Cut paper to the following size.


2) Roll up the piece of paper - this is very easy if one rolls the paper over a pencil first!


3) Close one end of the paper roll with a stapler.


4) Label the paper roll with the collecting data - date and place of collection (as precise as possible). ONLY use a pencil for labelling the paper rolls, do NOT use ball-pens or similar ink-like pens for this. Inscriptions made with other materials will be erased by the alcohol used in this protocol! Write in capital letters to avoid misconceptions.


5) Prepare the phasmid specimen. Additionally, for quite thick phasmid specimens (especially female specimens) you can empty the abdomen. Use a sharp knife to open the abdomen from the ventral side. Take out the bowel very carefully to not touch the inner layer of the exoskeleton and damage the colour of the insect. Then cross the front legs of the dead phasmid in front of the head as shown in the photo below. Align middle and hind legs along the abdomen.


6) Insert specimen into the labelled paper roll. Crossed forelegs and insert the specimen head first. Align feelers along the thorax and abdomen.


7) Close the second end of the filled and labelled paper roll. Close it with a stapler (make sure you leave enough space behind the specimen), so that the specimen is not damaged.


8) How to store the samples before shipment or trip:

  • Use airtight tupperwares or plastic bottles with plastic caps - and insert the paper rolls with the specimens inside.
  • Add about 1 decilitre of alcohol to the container. The alcohol used as preservative must contain at least 80 vol% of alcohol - and better if the alcohol content is even higher!.
  • Such alcohol can be obtained from drug stores, where it is often sold as "sanitary alcohol", "medical alcohol" or "disinfectant alcohol". Just make sure that you buy it from a trustworthy drug store.
  • In a cold place (like in a fridge or even freezer), the containers with the samples can be stored for up to 10 months, but if you have to keep them at room temperature, then they should be stored only 3 months before shipping. Otherwise, the samples may start to decay, despite the alcohol. Turn the container from time to time to ensure that all paper rolls are soaked thoroughly with alcohol. If you store the samples at room temperatures, then add some fresh alcohol every 4 weeks.

9) Shipment of preserved stick insects specimens:

  • Fill about 2 deciliters of fresh alcohol (at least 80%) in the plastic container - which contains the paper rolls with the specimens.
  • If you are not using a robust plastic container, then put the whole bottle/tupperware into a robust, sturdy plastic one. This will protect the samples from being crushed during shipment (as the plastic bottle does not offer much protection).
  • Seal the lid of the container with a strong adhesive tape.
  • Do NOT use metal containers - as metal containers might be detected by the x-ray machines at airports as being potentially dangerous glass containers are also not suitable as they are too heavy and may break in transport!.
  • Declare the shipment as "dead insects - for scientific studies only". Do NOT mention that the specimens are preserved in alcohol on the declaration sheet. Otherwise, airlines might refuse to transport it.