Insect Collecting & Rearing Supplies

[2022-02-17] Note: BioQuip announced last week that they are going out of business on March 11, 2022. This page is a work in progress attempting to provide alternative sources for common supplies.

With the closure of BioQuip on March 11, 2022, many people, including myself, have been wondering where we will source all of our collecting and rearing supplies. BioQuip has been a staple of American Lepidopterists since 1947 and produced many supplies themselves, such as display cases, cabinets and drawers. The sources listed below are what I've found through internet searches and the suggestions of others. I have not purchased supplies from most of these so cannot personally recommend them, but I will try to update this list as I receive any feedback, suggestions, or with my own experiences. Feel free to email me (contact on left) if you have bad experiences with any of the sources listed here or if you have other suggestions.

Insect repair adhesive: this is essentially clear nail polish, just make sure to buy one that is completely clear and not tinted.

Envelopes and Forceps

These can be purchased from nearly any stamp collecting company. BioQuip's catalog number 1131A = Size 1 glassine envelopes, 1131B = Size 2, 1131D = size 4-1/2. I haven't found a source for the square size (1131C) yet.

Amos Advantage envelopes are found here. Size 1 priced $4.99 per 100. I prefer these, the thickness and quality are the same as my iHobb and eBay samples (all of which are basically identical to the BioQuip envelopes), but the Amos Advantage envelopes were just a smidge smoother/clearer and hard to beat the price. Hopefully they don't substitute with lower quality envelopes like Coin Supply Express I mention below.

iHobb envelopes are found here. Size 1 priced $5.55 per 100, or $4.99/100 if ordering 1000 ($49.95).

eBay has several options, all seem to be of similar quality, many probably sourced from the same suppliers that iHobb and Amos Advantage are buying from.

I also ordered from Coin Supply Express but the envelopes were not the same style shown in the images and were of lower quality, thinner, but less see-through glassine paper. The images look the same as the envelopes offered by the other places above, but the flap is not pre-folded and the glued seams are on either side, not the bottom and one side, and many are slightly wrinkled because they're so flimsy. They're not terrible and will do for backup, but I was not impressed.

Note: Glassine is becoming very difficult to source lately as there is a major paper shortage, particularly of specialty papers. As sellers have more difficulty sourcing envelopes, they may wind up sourcing lower quality envelopes such as the instance I experienced. If you get lower quality envelopes from any of these sources please let me know and I can update this page accordingly.

Stamp tongs/forceps = spade-tipped forceps for handling butterflies and moths. I prefer the plain 4-5/8" spade tip version. These are available here from iHobb. Also a variety of forceps found here at Amos Advantage.

A search for glassine paper will bring up a number of food supply and craft companies where you can find a variety of sizes, usually fairly large, so would need to be cut down to size for paper triangles (an alternative to envelopes preferred by some collectors). With the glassine paper shortages, if you use a lot of envelopes and/or glassine paper strips for pinning, I'd recommend stocking up on some of these bulk glassine paper options. You can always cut strips from them or make paper triangles.

Insect Pins and Label Pins

"Label pins" are short (10mm or 3/8 inch) steel pins used to secure general labels to the foam bottom of unit trays or drawers. They are produced under the Entochrysis and EntoSphinx brands (links below). Alternatively, the same style of pins are also known as "sequin pins" or "lills pins" and can be purchased from craft supply stores, although those are usually only sold as 1/2" (13mm) length, which would stick up a bit more from the 3/8" foam used in unit trays and drawers.

EntoSphinx is a company in the Czech Republic which has a variety of insect pins (black and stainless steel, sizes 000 to 7), minuten pins, label pins (10mm), paper strips for spreading and drying Lepidoptera ("pergamine setting strip"), spreading boards and many other items. They have a PayPal purchase option. I ordered from them, the process was relatively simple, most of the site is in English until you get to the shipping options, make sure you translate those so you pick the actual "shipping" option and not "local pick up"! I put in my order and selected the PayPal payment option. After the initial confirmation email, I didn't hear anything for over 2 weeks, then I got an email that my order was ready to ship, and a separate email with the PayPal invoice marked due within 1 month. The order shipped within two days and I paid the invoice through PayPal (super easy). Interestingly, the order shipped from the Netherlands. I'll update this paragraph with a quality review of the items once I receive the order.

Entomoravia, also in the Czech Republic, sells Austerlitz brand insect pins in black and stainless steel, all sizes from 000 to 7.

eBay actually has quite a few sellers of insect pins. Some look like off-brands of uncertain quality, but if you specifically search for "Entochrysis insect pins" you should find several offerings of this brand that BioQuip sold as an alternate to their own name brand pins. They are also available directly from the company here.

Amazon also has a number of options, including the Austerlitz brand from the Czech Republic.

Carolina Biological Supply has generic black enamel pins but they're a little on the pricey side.

BugsDirect is a UK company that ships insect specimens to the US and also sells EntoSphinx brand black insect pins in size #2 only.

Paquet (linked below) also sells Austerlitz brand pins in all sizes.

Glass-headed pins used for holding down glassine paper strips, antennae, abdomens, etc. during the spreading and drying process can be found at any fabric/sewing shop or Amazon. I purchased a few packages of them from Joann's Fabric & Crafts. If ordering online, make sure you pay attention to the size: BioQuip sold 1-3/8" pins, such as "Dritz 61 glass head pins, extra fine"

Spreading Boards, Cabinets/Drawers, etc.

Atelier Jean Paquet, Inc. is a company in Canada which produces spreading boards, Cornell and USNM style cabinets and drawers, Schmitt boxes, Austerlitz brand pins, and other supplies. I plan to purchase items from here and will report back on my experience(s). I know someone who purchased several of their Cornell drawers and about a quarter of them arrived with broken glass. He had them replaced by a local glass shop. I've heard that someone else had a similar experience and Paquet paid for the replaced glass, while others had nothing broken at all. The drawers cost less than BioQuip, especially with the USD/CAD conversion rate, and this is currently the only place in North America that I could find which sells Cornell drawers, so the price may be worth the occasional inconvenience of replacing a few glass tops.

Also see EntoSphinx site mentioned above for spreading boards and related items.

BugHouse in Belgium has the hard-to-find narrow strips of glassine paper I like to use for holding down butterfly wings during the spreading process, although several of them are currently out of stock (seems to be a problem everywhere!)

If you want to try making your own drawers, this tutorial by Jeff Smith in California looks extremely helpful:

Rearing Cages

BugDorm - this is the producer of some of BioQuip's cages. BioQuip was their only distributor in the US. You can purchase BugDorm products directly from their website or from other distributers such as Solida in Canada, NHBS in the UK, and Roppon-Ashi in Japan.

Raising Butterflies has a variety of cages and sleeves.

Sagebrush Butterflies is a family-run business by Matthew Campbell in Oregon. They primarily rear livestock (of the butterfly and moth variety!) and produce jewelry items, but also sell rearing sleeves and small cages. Use search term "rearing" on the website to find these items.

Many science supply companies offer cages, such as Educational Science.

Many other places sell a variety of cages, including Amazon, Walmart, and Etsy. Use search terms of "butterfly cage", "insect cage" or "rearing cage".

Butterfly Nets

Educational Science sells a variety of nets. Home Science Tools also carries a few student-style nets.

Roppon-Ashi in Japan sells a number of high-quality nets (look under "frames" for net rings and "rods" for handles on the English translation of their website).

Other Collecting Items

Plastic tubes and glass vials can be found from a variety of medical or chemical supply companies, eBay, Amazon, and other places. 

For the small 2ml tubes with snap cap, search for "snap cap collecting tube 2 ml" or "2 ml snap cap microcentrifuge tube"

One place to start might be this place: Premium Vials.

Dried Specimens

The Butterfly Co. primarily sells dried specimens of butterflies, moths, beetles, and some other insects. They also have a small selection of spreading/mounting supplies.

BugsDirect is a UK company that ships insect specimens to the US.

Sagebrush Butterflies sells eggs and pupae of select species reared in Oregon and some dried specimens.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! This resource is solely needed in light of Bioquip's decision. I hope you continue to update this page.