Shrinking Staphylinidae?

Acetone treated Staphylinid

One problem I regularly see with rove beetles, particularly with some of the smaller groups, is that the abdomen shrinks as it dries, telescoping inward and potentially obscuring important characters.  A fairly easy way to avoid this is by soaking the beetle(s) in acetone overnight, though I think 3 or 4 hours would be sufficient.  The beetles are removed the next day and placed under a heat source (I use an incandescent light bulb) for a few minutes.  The acetone tends to harden tissues and as it rapidly evaporates in the heat, the soft tissues remain rigid.  Thus you get a well-preserved,  un-shrunken specimen, although results do vary somewhat.  One downside to this is specimens that have become distended from preservation in fluids will retain this appearance, but I don’t think this is a huge issue.

I use a similar technique for small flies and wasps.


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