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A Guide To Mounting Insects on Pins

The groups normally mounted on insect pins are:  Odonata, Orthoptera, Dermaptera, Hemiptera (Heteroptera), Homoptera (Auchenorrhyncha), Neuroptera, Coleoptera, Mecoptera, Lepidoptera, Diptera, and Hymenoptera.

Large Insects

Pin the insect, dorsal side up, so that precisely 10 mm of the shaft is free above the specimen.  Generally, the pin should pass through the insect's mesothorax, slightly to the right of center (see Diagram of Pinning Locations for different body types).  The insect's ventral surface should be perpendicular to the pin.  Consider visibility, breakage, and space when positioning parts.  Lepidoptera and Odonata are best positioned on a spreading board -- with Lepidoptera spread so that the trailing edge of the fore wing just overlaps the leading edge of the hind wing, the line of juncture being perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the body.

Small Insects

Insects too small to receive the shaft of a #3 pin may be glued to pinned paper points (points are cut from 36 lb. linen ledger -- 100% cotton rag -- with a special paper punch).  Using clear nail polish as glue, firmly attach the point to the insect's right side just above the middle right leg (mesothorax), dorsal side up.

Align labels 5 mm apart as shown to protect the specimen and conserve space.



Data Labels

Use index card stock or equivalent.  Labels should be lettered in black, waterproof ink or printed with a laser printer.  A crow quill or Rapidograph pen (01 point) is adequate for most hand lettering.

Size: no larger than 8x12 mm, 1-4 lines of writing per individual label.


  1. Top level -- Date/locality label (general to specific)
    • Lines 1 & 2:  Country, State, County, City
    • Line 3:  Date collected (day, month in Roman, year in full as 26-VII-2008)
    • Line 4:  Collector's name (initials and last name)
  2. (Current students may use the Label Request Form to obtain customized D/L labels.)
  3. Second level -- Identification label
    • Give family name for pinned insects; order and family for insects in alcohol
  4. Third level (optional) -- Ecological label