I have some flies that were recovered from a conservatory where they have died and dried out. They would be a great resource for me to practice keying out diptera.
What is the best way to store/sort desiccated specimens like this? Can they be softened enough to pin or is it better to mount them on points?
They can be relaxed by keeping them in a damp atmosphere (like a lepidopterist's relaxing box) overnight or for a few days (but expect to lose a few to mould).
If you try to pin them without relaxing them, they're likely to split and lose most of their legs. Otherwise, just card point them - done carefully, most of the necessary features will still be visible.
Thanks Tony, I may go with points as the specs are totally crisp and quite brittle.
I would use a jar with chopped laurel leaves, the HCN vapour prevents the growth of mould and specimens are usually ready for pinning after a day or so. This may not be useful if you do not have a laurel bush nearby or if the leaves have become old and no longer need poisons to protect them, use the greenest and most tender leaves, preferably collected earlier in the year.
Thanks KM, I might try that with a couple and see if they relax at all.