How to Make Insect Display Boxes

Written by charles calmbacher
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Display boxes protect insects while allowing ready observation of a collection. Suitable components to construct display boxes can be bought in craft and hobby shops. Display boxes that will fit in standardised insect storage cabinets will have outside dimensions of 19 inches by 16 inches by 3 inches. Boxes with smaller dimensions can be used to display individual or smaller numbers of insects. Commercially available shadow boxes are easily adapted to the display of insects.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Boxes with glass or plastic lids
  • Foam or cork sheeting
  • Decorative cloth or paper lining
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Cutting board
  • Glue
  • Small matchbox
  • Moth flakes or mothballs
  • Insect pins
  • Needle-nose pliers

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  1. 1

    Obtain glass- or plastic-covered boxes deep enough to fit your specimens.

  2. 2

    Measure, cut and fit foam or cork sheeting to the inside dimensions of the box bottom.

  3. 3

    Glue the sheeting inside the bottom of the box, allowing enough room for securely pinning insects while clearing the lid.

  4. 4

    Cover the inside of the box with felt, cloth or decorative paper for the best display of your specimens. Use a material that will contrast with the specimens being displayed.

  5. 5

    Pin mothballs into each corner of your display box or pin a matchbox filled with moth flakes in the corner of the box. Heated pins can be inserted into mothballs using needle-nosed pliers to make pinning easier and neater.

  6. 6

    Pin specimens inside the box. Arrange insects for according to classification, for scientific identification, or for aesthetic display.

Tips and warnings

  • Moth flakes and mothballs will keep other insects from eating your collection.
  • Commercially constructed display boxes can be purchased from scientific supply companies.
  • Small plastic boxes can be used to display some specimens.
  • Use wood and glass (or translucent plastic sheeting) to construct a sturdier and more durable display box.
  • Styrofoam liners are melted by mothballs and moth flakes. Use polyurethane, or other non-reactive materials for lining boxes.
  • Mothballs and moth flakes are toxic. Handle them with care.
  • Use caution when handling hot pins being inserted into mothballs to prevent burns.

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