Beetles! Pins, more pins, and perfect shapes.

Hello! This post is part of my Natural History Museum series – I’ve been lending my photography skills to the ‘Coleoptera section of the Terrestrial Invertebrates Division’ (which roughly translates as ‘beetles department’). I will be sharing my favourite images with you every week, so stay tuned!


This week I want to show you some pins. Yes, pins. Have you ever looked at museum specimens? If so, you may have noticed that they’re perfectly laid out, with their six wiry limbs in a neat, symmetrical arrangement – see above. Unfortunately, this does not happen by magic. It is done with pins, and lots of precision.

Helena-Maratheftis-beetles-pin-cages-04Before specimens go on display, they are soaked in alcohol and left to dry while in a ‘cage’ of pins. Think of these pins as scaffolding, holding everything in place. I know I’ll be called a crazy artist (again) by the people in the department, but I think the cages look quite beautiful! Sort of like crowns of thorns, or rays of light beaming out. Here’s my artistic representation:


Helena-Maratheftis-beetles-pin-cages-06The final product, after the pins have been removed:


P.S. I know some of you are squeamish about insects, so I’ve been trying to only publish pictures of the pretty ones. The problem is, I think they’re all pretty ones! I hope you agree – and please let me know if you don’t!

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