Making Permanent Microscope Slides of Insects

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Making Permanent Microscope Slides of Insects

#1 Post by AntoniScott » Tue May 26, 2020 8:09 pm

Can anyone recommend books or publications on how to make permanent slides of insects , large and small. I have general ideas but would like tried-and-true methods.

About six decades ago I had a book on slide making which has been long misplaced or lost. It was very thorough, right down to the processing of the dark insect exoskeletons with Potassium Hydroxide, dehdration and then using clove oil as a clearing agent.Today I use Xylene. Does anyone know if clove oil is a better clearing agent than xylene because I know that xylene is very toxic ?

I remember the book stating that flattening the insect was accomplished by rolling it with a wooden handle from a dissecting needle. This part was very tricky as it was easy to break off legs, etc.

Today, I flatten the insects between two glass slides carefully squeezing the slides together while observing through a stereo microscope to ensure not over squeezing. To prevent this I use a shim such as a piece of index card. If the insect is very big and very dark, I over-"cook" the insect in Potassium Hydroxide (I make a saturated solution of KOH) and then flatten using two paper shims to double the space between the two slides. I then hold the slides together with small paper clips. The dehydration process is not affected by this small space between the glass slides but to make sure that there is an exchange of water and alcohol with higher concentrations, I dunk the slides in and out of the alcohol several time visually confirming that the alcohol leaves the slide before re-introducing.

There is much more that I do not remember so any professional documentation on insect slide preparation will be much appreciated.

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Re: Making Permanent Microscope Slides of Insects

#2 Post by dtsh » Tue May 26, 2020 9:51 pm

I don't have much to contribute except to say that I am also looking into this subject.

I've just completed reading the following and am still digesting the contents, I hope it will be useful to you. ... part5.html

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Re: Making Permanent Microscope Slides of Insects

#3 Post by wporter » Tue May 26, 2020 9:54 pm

Insect Microscopy, by Chick, has quite a bit on making insect slides.

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Re: Making Permanent Microscope Slides of Insects

#4 Post by photomicro » Wed May 27, 2020 10:50 am

There was quite a bit on this subject within the booklets published by NBS (Northern Biological Supplies) in the UK in the 1970s.

These were done by Eric Marson, and can often be picked up as separate booklets on each topic, or as a bound volume of all 17 booklets.

Eric taught a great deal, and tutored Ernie Ives who carried on making slides, particularly insects and wood sections for many years.

He wrote about his techniques in the journal of the Postal Microscopical Society, 'Balsam Post' over nearly 20 years, giving very detailed practical instructions.

Over 70 of these articles are being made into two volumes at present, though with the current situation re CV-19 I am unsure when they will be available.

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