Pinning the Specimen

 Size of insect mounting pin

There are a number of sizes of pins (from 00 to 7) which are used in the process of pinning insects. I like Ento-Sphinx pins  available through Do not use common pins when pinning the specimen because they can rust ruin valuable specimens. Also, they are much to short and thick. Insect pins come in several sizes, but sizes No. 2 and No. 3 are most often used.  Below is a list of example of what size of pin might be used with each listed specimen.

  • 000 – Leafhopper
  • 00 – Sharpshooter
  • 0 – Spotted Cucumber Beetle
  • 1 – Butterfly
  • 2 – Yellow-jacket Wasp
  • 3 – Dogday Cicada
  • 4 – Rhinoceros Beetle
  • 5 – Large Dung Beetle
  • 6 – Cecropia Moth
  • 7 – Goliath Beetle
Hand position while Pinning the Specimen

Grasp the insect between the thumb and forefinger or lay it on a Styrofoam pad and press the pin gently but firmly just through exoskeleton. Pause and examine the angle of the pin. Will it poke through at a critical or inconvenient point on the insect’s bottom?

Example of pinning the specimen for a Tarantula Hawk.
Example of pinning the specimen for a Tarantula Hawk.
Pin Angle

Will the insect be pinned at an unusual angle? If so, pull the pin back out slightly and preposition for the final push through. Be careful not to enlarge entry pin holes or to create too many holes. When completed examine the specimen again for desired pinning effect. Be careful not to prick your fingers when pinning the specimen.

Pinning the specimen - side view
Pinning the specimen – side view
Pinning the specimen - top view
Pinning the specimen – top view

Proper pin positioning is very important. Insects are not all the same. Where a pin is inserted into the insect body may affect or damage a leg on the other side of the insect’s body  Use the illustration to the below as a guide for where to insert pins in the various types of insects.