The Unit Tray System

20 August 2017

The Unit Tray System is one method of organizing and sorting your collections in collection drawers. Using small trays, you can categorize and group specimens. Many research institutes use this unit tray system. To help your understanding, let’s say, you took numerous images of insects including beetles, butterflies, flies, bees, and ants. You will have to make folders per their taxons and save each files into appropriate folders, right? This is somewhat a ‘sorting,’ and this is what you can apply to insect collections as well.

In the United States and Canada, the Unit Tray System is what basically used, and applied in many institutions and private collections. I started using after I entered college, majoring entomology just because I didn’t have many different taxon until then. Although I only collect and keep scarab beetles, I now have many different species, so I’m still using this system. Here I’m explaining the general purpose of using the system, and discusses the pros and cons.

PURPOSE
DSC09235
Sorting per species, per groups…
Generally, you sort the specimens per species/subspecies in the single unit tray to separate and organize the specimens per ‘what they are.’ Sometimes, when there aren’t many numbers of species or having difficulty of determining the species level, you can group them in a single tray as Genus spp. or Family spp.

PROS
You can easily and safely (to specimens) move around the specimens to different spot or drawers, and you can always add more specimens of same species already deposited in the middle of the drawer.
Untitled-1
If you keep and organize as above in the picture, and when you want to add more specimens of what you already have, you will have to move each specimen away to make a space. For example, if you want to add couple of more Lamprima sp. (green), you will have to move those three Aegus laevicollis (black) and Dynastes tityus (yellow) away to make enough space. However, if you are using the unit tray system as image below…
Untitled-2
You can easily add more specimens in the drawer without a fuss of moving specimens around. In other words, it is convenient to add more specimens of what you already have and to sort specimens. You always keep the close taxon together for scientific collections, so you can easily add new species into the drawer. For example, Dorcus titanus sspp.(Coleoptera: Lucanidae) has a lot of subspecies and when you want to add more you can easily move around the unit trays to make enough space for the new trays. No worry to damage the specimen while handle them and it is very convenient.

CONS
Trays use up spaces.
Untitled-3
If you don’t use the unit tray system, and just pin down the specimen into the drawer, you can have 30 Dynastes tityus males like in the image above. However, if you use unit tray system as image below…
Untitled-4
because of the walls created by those unit trays, you are lacking enough space to place the specimens.

Recommend unit tray system if…
you are collecting many different species and groups, and always having more and more specimens as time passes. If you are collecting on your own, yes.

Do no recommend unit tray system if…
you don’t collect many different species or specimens are not added up, the unit tray system won’t be useful. If you only keep one species in a drawer, then unit tray system is useless, unless you sort them in different purpose, like per size, per gender, etc.

*I will promptly update the post for additional information.

Advertisements

Getting Buggy at Kent Plantation House

2017.06.03.

DSC08367

The 10th annual Getting Buggy at *Kent Plantation House is held this morning, in Alexandria, Louisiana. I heard about this public insect exhibition last year, when the event is completed, so I was waiting to visit this time, the 10th. The even is supported by The USDA US Forestry Service at Southern Research Center.

gettingbuggy

*Kent Plantation House: the oldest standing structure in Central Louisiana, listed,  since 1971, in the National Register Historic Places, is located in Alexandria in Rapides Parish.

I found out Steven Barney, a host for Bugstock in Louisiana is also there as a host, so I made a contact ahead of time to meet him there. The event was larger than I expected. People at the booth, mostly, knew what they were explaining to visitors in their view point, especially for the kids.

Lots of stuffs were there, from a booth explaining different bees to entomophagy, honey bees, different type of many things.

Steven Barney (in white t-shirt) at the The Beetle Experience, showing beetles.

DSC08340.jpg

There were lots of different animals as well, and not just insects or arthropods. I saw many reptiles, especially the geckos and snakes. Baby alligator in the picture above.

Couple of collection drawers displayed as well. I usually see a lot of large neotropical scarabs or Atlas Moth of Asia in such public exhibition, however, this event focused on insects that can be found in Louisiana, which was very nice thing to show that they are around us.

It was interesting event for the local people as many insects displayed in this event and explained were mostly found from Louisiana.

Visiting Louisiana State Arthropod Museum

2017.05.23.

To obtain samples of beetles and collection data including locality and date of collection occurred, I made a visit to Louisiana State Arthropod Museum, as a visiting scientist. I made an appointment to visit the museum with museum director Dr. Christopher Carlton and curator Dr. Victoria Bayless ahead of time.

map_route
(A route from home to the museum. 126 miles, about 2 hours of driving)

Drove about 2 hours, and finally, arrived in LSU-Baton Rouge campus. The weather condition wasn’t great, but fortunately, there were not much of rainfall on the way.

DSC08142
Part of scarab collections I examined while I was staying in the museum.

DSC08145
A portrait of myself, examining specimens. (photo taken by graduate student working in there).

It took about six hours to finish my work and get over with. It was sad to be unable to enjoy the time and relax in the collection room. I was too busy with the work. Maybe on my next visit…

Visiting Chungnam National University

2017.04.06.

I visited Junggon Kim at Chungnam National University (CNU) located in Daejeon Metropolitan City of South Korea. He is a PhD candidate, studying systematics of Miridae (Hemiptera). We’ve been knowing each other for about or over 10 years now. Couple of years back, he requested me to collect some nearctic Miridae samples, and I gladly accepted to collect and provide him. As I’m visiting South Korea this time, I decided to personally bring the collections to him and meet with at his lab. As the place I’m staying is quite far away from CNU, I had to take an intercity bus (similar to Greyhound of the U.S., that goes across the cities and states), taking about 3 hours of total trip to get there. Although it is not that distanced as 3 hours in the U.S., it takes quite a time to get to the end from the other end in South Korea.

20170406_165831
10,000 KRW is about 10.00 USD. It took me about one hour to reach Seongnam Intercity Bus Station (Seongnam, Gyeonggi) from my place, and from that bus station, it took another two hours to get to the Daejeon Metropolitan City.

20170406_180033
Finally, after three hours, on 6PM, I arrived at the CNU at Daejeon Metropolitan City of South Korea. This was my first visit to Daejeon, as I’ve never been far out from Seoul, the capitol city of South Korea in my childhood. I took a wrong bus and dropped off at the main entrance of CNU, took me a long walk to get to the place we decided to meet. I walked about a mile, and then Junggon decided to come pick me up with his car as it takes too much time to get there by just walking. I realized where I was picked up is only about a half of the route to reach the building, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

We went straight to dinner with a surprise guest, Hangyeol Ji, a MS Student studying Tingidae. I’ve been knowing him as he is the administrator of one of the top web beetle forums, 곤충사육필살기(gon-choong-saa-yook-feel-sal-gii, meaning a super technique of insect rearing) housing over five thousand members, at the time.

AND two undergraduate students, Jaedong Kim (micro-Lepidoptera) and Jihoon Kim (Scarabaeidae) joined our dinner table. Two are very knowledgeable students working toward getting entomology degrees. As they happened to be students of CNU, I decided to ask them to come over. Despite the great time I’m having with them, the very last bust departing back to Seongnam is on 9PM. So we had to hurry back to the CNU lab and observe the collection room and everything.

DSC07666 1
Their collection room was quite messy as they were keep updating things. Junggon showed me around and explained that the lab is now preserving collections in fluid for, mostly, DNA sequencing. Also the current dried collections are from old adviser/head professor. Therefore, no one is having enough time to sort the specimens. Still, there were A LOT of dried collections.

DSC07668 1
It was interesting as there were lots of public display collections as well as bunch of mixed up butterflies, beetles, and other things. Some are labeled properly while some aren’t. Junggon said some portion of dried collections are donated from a students who previously took entomology courses, so some of them may not be properly preserved.

DSC07674
From the left to right: Jihoon Kim (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae), Jaedong Kim (micro-Lepidoptera), Junsuk Kim (author), Hangyeol Ji (Hemiptera: Tingidae), Junggon Kim (Hemiptera: Miridae).

As the time closed by to 9PM, I REALLY had to hurry and leave the CNU. Thankfully, Junggon Kim gave me a quick ride to the intercity bus station so I wasn’t late, and I returned to home at around 12AM. Although it was very short trip to CNU, I enjoyed my time with good people there.

Visiting the National Institute of Biological Resources

2017.04.05.

National Institute of Biological Resources (NIBR) is an institute located in Incheon, South Korea, housing a great number of natural resources collections, working towards conservations of species, and many other projects. This was my second visit since the summer 2015, with small collections donation. Dr. Taewoo Kim, once again welcomed me with couple of other researchers of NIBR.

20170405_101055
Dr. Taewoo Kim told me as he got a meetings, I will have to go to his office at Department of Animal Resources, and wait for him. (Last time, he picked me up at the first floor of Research and Management Building)

20170405_101414
As I was an outsider to this institute, I had to wear this visitor’s pass. Two other researchers (Dr. Hong-Yul Seo and Dr. Tae Hwa Kang) welcomed me in, and Dr. Kang showed me around the collections room once again.

DSC07614
DSC07616
Their cabinets were interesting, as they have to steer(?) each handle to move around the cabinets and access the drawers. I think it saves a great space.

DSC07615
DSC07613
DSC07611
DSC07612
He also showed me how my last donations are sorted. At first, these were sorted together with Korean species, but as these aren’t the collections which always come in and added, the Dr. Kang said, any non Korean specimens are sorted separately from Koreans.

DSC07627
DSC07621
DSC07628
DSC07633
DSC07634
DSC07637
DSC07639
Last time, I visited on Monday, which is a holiday for Exhibit & Education Building, so I did not get a chance to look around, but this time, Dr. Kang showed me around entire place and explained lots of things. I think this place has great collections even to the public. Then, we enjoyed a lunch with Dr. Taewoo Kim, and went couple of other lab rooms to meet many other researchers.

DSC07665
As a gift to donors, I received two aspirators for different types of insect collecting from NIBR. I met couple of people I knew from the Internet as well. Also, as an appreciation to donors, there is this screen at first floor lists the donors and their information. (image below)

20170405_130535It is written in Korean, but it says my name, Junsuk Kim and the affiliation at the time of donation, which was University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

17522122_10206872072479558_1906932747_o
From left to right: Dr. Tae Hwa Kang(Coleoptera: Cantharidae), Junsuk Kim(Author), and Dr. Taewoo Kim(Orthoptera). A Young Kim (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae, Behind camera).

I’m really appreciated to visit there with a great welcome and advice with gifts, thank you all.

Visiting the Seoul National University

03 April 2017

Seoul National University (SNU) is a national research university located in Seoul, South Korea. It is the most prestigious university in the country. There are three campuses with main one located in Gwanak, Seoul.

하늘소-생태도감
Jang, H., S. Lee, and W. Choi. 2015. Cerambycidae of Korea. Geobook, Seoul, South Korea. 399 pp.

I visited Seunghyun Lee, a PhD candidate of systematic of entomology, focusing on family Cerambycidae, at Seoul National University. He has published number of journal papers and a book of all the known Cerambycidae species occurring in South Korea with his colleagues, Hyunkyu Jang and Woong Choi. I brought him a gift of nearctic Cerambycidae in both dried collections and fluid collections for him to work on DNA sequencing. And then he treated me a nice, warm dinner with a tour to his laboratory. The purpose of visit is to meet Seunghyun Lee in person as well as to see how insect collections are housed in SNU.

_DSC5220This is how the entrance of SNU looks like. There is a big structure (partially shaded by tree on right). (Photo taken in June 2015).

DSC07580 1
DSC07584 1
An image of collection room. The collection cabinets can be moved by door handle there. You will have to rotate it to access each cabinets. It seems it can save a lot of space, except it would be difficult to have many different people to work on their own things.

DSC07587 1
Scarab drawers.

DSC07588
Drawers had hooks to lock them up, which I’ve seen it couple of times.

DSC07597
This room here is for graduate students to work on their research. This room had photographing equipment and the equipment for DNA molecular works.

DSC07598
His photography were amazing, and says he just works in this set up, with StackShot device connected to the camera with electronic macro slide.

DSC07599
From left to right: Seunghyun Lee, Junsuk Kim(author), Jinbae Seung(Eucneimidae, Histeridae), Minhyeuk Lee

DSC07604
From left to right: Seunghyun Lee(Cerambycidae), Junsuk Kim(author), Jinbae Seung(Eucneimidae, Histeridae), Minhyeuk Lee(Scarabaeinae), Minseok Oh(Miridae). Sunghyeok Nam (Platygastridae, behind the camera).

I’m not completely sure whether the spellings of their names are correct as I only converted their Korean names to English pronunciation. I will update as I find out their names in English in future.

Korea Trip 2017 – Prologue

27 March 2017 – 25 April 2017

I had a trip to South Korea for about a month for my personal reasons, and then entomological businesses there. I planned and made appointments to visit institutions including Seoul National University (Seoul, South Korea), Chungnam National University (Daejeon Metropolitan City, S. Chungcheong, South Korea), National Institute of Biological Resources (Incheon, South Korea), and Seoul-forest (Seoul, South Korea). Also I made a visit to insect museums of Chungwoo Insectarium, Manchun Insectarium, and insect shop Insect Harmony.

DSC07217
I got this many, about 600 or more collections of pinned, papered and fluid collections for donations to each institute.

DSC07420
I departed from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) at Houston, Texas, and arrived in Incheon International Airport (ICN) at Incheon, South Korea.

DSC07424It was about 14-15 hours of flight with a little bit of turbulence. It was fine flight compares to past flight I had. I will only post about my visits to three institutes of:

Seoul National University
National Institute of Biological Resources
Chungnam National University

*Click them, you will redirected to each visit in a new tab.

How to carefully package pinned insect collections

2017.03.14.

Many, including amateur collectors has discussed how to carefully package unpinned (not pinned) collections on a cardboard with plastic wrapper. (a.k.a. papered specimen). In this post, I’ll discuss how to carefully package ‘pinned’ collections.

You will need followings:
-hard box
-plastazote foam for floor (or any dense foam, Styrofoam, etc.)
-plastazote foam for lid (or any dense foam, Styrofoam, etc.)

DSC07131DSC07134
Place and glue the foam into the box.

DSC07136
Then place the specimen inside the box.

DSC07137
Use pins to hold the specimen side to side, so they won’t spin or move around upon the possible impact.

DSC07139
Like this. Place pins outer the legs, if legs are very close to the body. If you place pins between legs and body, legs may be detached on impact.

DSC07141
This red mark here is a estimated distance from the top of pin head to the top of box. You will have fill up this space to hold down the pins from jumping or swing.

DSC07145
A plastazote foam, Styrofoam, or any other dense foam can be used as well as multiple layers of cushioning paper or plastic wraps. corrugated paper box is good choice as well for shockproof and can easily be obtained.

DSC07146It would be nice to write down a list of specimens packaged inside for the ones who receive it.

Cross-posted in following page (in Korean) at http://bgjkim.blog.me/220958393384
Contents may be slightly differ for the appropriate readers.

Allometry – What matters the larval growth?

2017.02.21.

I’m rearing couple of dynastine scarab beetles, and I checked up some larvae the other day. I found some interesting specimens. A group of larvae which hatched a lot earlier are still so tiny (still L1-L2), while the other group of larvae hatched later are fully grown up to L3 instars.

I had this experience of larvae not growing up enough in given time when I reared Dynastes grantii Horn. This time, both Strategus aloeus (Linnaeus) and Dynastes tityus (Linnaeus) shown the results. In this post, I’ll be posting two pictures of two groups of S. aloeus (Linnaeus) only.

When I first reared D. grantii larvae, I fed horribly fermented substrate and they took such a long time to grow up. With several months, they were still L1-L2. At the time, since I knew I fed them bad food, I thought that was the cause. Then later years, I tried to rear them again and fed really good substrate with well fermented oaks. Larvae grew up so fast and reached L3 instar within a month. So obviously, at the time, I thought larval growth surely matters with the food quality.

When I faced trouble again the other day with S. aloeus, I actually asked couple of my friends, and found the right answer to this issue. Larval growth usually matters with an activity space. With enough space, each larva will eat up the food and moves around.

dsc06700

Above is a picture of a group hatched a lot earlier than below. They are still all in L1-L2 instar. They were picked up as eggs on October 11th, 2016, and hatched as follows. Eggs were kept in 16.6 fl oz. (490.9cc) container since then and only one or two larvae survived.

dsc06698

Five larvae here are kept in 230.4 fl oz (6813.74cc). These larvae were laid as eggs after Oct. 11th, 2016, as female was still alive for couple of weeks. The container they were kept is the container for adult beetles to lay eggs. There is a significant difference in larval growth in size of container they were kept, or ‘the activity space.’

Killing jar, killing agent

6 February 2017

A killing jar is a container that has chemical substance (or killing agent) that used to kill collected insects in the field to prevent any further damage to specimens. As I don’t collect any soft-bodied insects, I don’t ever use killing jar up until now. I usually kill my collections by dumping them into the alcohol (or sometimes injecting small amount of alcohol into the abdomen) or freeze them after I get back home. These days, I started to collect some Lepidopterans so I started to feel the needs of killing jars.

There are many chemical used in killing jars, like Sodium Cyanide, Ethyl Acetate, Ammonium Carbonate, etc. I have an experience of using Sodium Cyanide in my collection trip with Vernon A. Brou Jr. of Louisiana Lepidoptera Survey (Abita Springs, Louisiana). It is most amazing killing agent. It can kill moths in couple of seconds. However, it is not something you can get in nowadays. It is banned to be sold as it is very, very toxic substance. As I’m not affiliated to any institution, I doubt I can get a hand on it at all.

Ethyl acetate? that’s something I can easily obtain, but it is horrible. It takes forever to kill specimens. I have an experience of using it in my freshmen year in college, at class. I only used it once and left it on my desk until the last day of semester.

I know couple of colleagues who use Ammonium, but they weren’t aware of what kind of Ammonium they are using. So I had to go look through and found Dr. Todd M. Gilligan at the Colorado State University and USDA. According to him, the Ammonium Carbonate is what he use all the time for moth collecting. Ammonium Carbonate is very good one for moth collecting as it does not dehydrate specimens even when stored for long time. This is good point as small sized Leps are difficult to be spreaded once dehydrated (even if rehydrated). Ethyl Acetate does dehydrate specimens when stored for long time, and Sodium Cyanide sometimes, depending on species, can discolor the specimens. Dr. Todd A. Gilligan suggested me to use an old sock to store the Ammonium Carbonate as it can damage the plaster (usually used in killing jar).

It was rather a long intro, but…

DSC06493.jpg

I made a purchase of Sodium Carbonate, from The Science Shop online as they were selling 500g in fair price compare to the others, and they even ship items for free with USPS 3-Days Priority. EXCEPT… they sent this toxic chemical substance in non-airtight container! I better find one that can SAFELY store this…

Effectiveness?
It is amazing! I tried right away on night. Moth got paralyzed after about 10 seconds. I think it takes some time to completely kill specimens, but paralyzing is definitely enough to prevent any damage from their own movements. As a sock didn’t stayed tight on bottom of killing jar, I better update things for easy works. Following picture is moths paralyzed/killed by the Ammonium Carbonate, and they are pretty clean and neat condition.

DSC06507.jpg