The general directions which we shall give respecting insects, hold good as to spiders, only we must mention there is considerable difficulty in preserving the bodies of spiders, which generally, in a very short time, shrink into a shapeless mass. To prevent this, the body should be pricked with the triangular awl and the contents pressed out; it should then be stuffed with very fine carded cotton or down, which can be pushed in by a pricker, blunted a little at the point. When properly distended, the small aperture should be filled up with a little cement, or a solution of gum-arabic. The legs of the larger species, such as the bird-catching My-gale and the Scorpions, are also liable to shrink, and should be stuffed in the same manner as that of the body.
In those species of spiders which we have thus prepared, and whose colors are rich and likely to be affected by the action of the atmosphere, we must endeavor to arrest its progress by immediately imbuing the animal, after it is set up, with the solution of corrosive sublimate, and in an hour after with a thin coating of a very weak white-spirit varnish; for this purpose, take a teaspoonful of the ordinary white-spirit or elastic varnish, and add to it two teaspoonfuls of spirit of wine; apply this wash with a fine camel hair brush, which will quickly dry, and have a strong tendency to preserve the color. The varnish, being thus reduced in strength, will not leave any gloss on the insect, nor will it be at all perceptible.
Mr. Samouelle, author of "The Entomologist's Useful Compendium," in speaking of preserving spiders, says: "The best preserved specimens that I have seen are those where the 3ontents of the abdomen have been taken out and filled with fine sand. I have preserved several in this way, and find it answer the purpose."
Mr. Donovan makes the following observations on the preservation of spiders:
"To determine whether some species of spiders could be preserved with their natural colors, I put several into spirits of wine; those with gibbous bodies soon after discharged a very considerable quantity of viscid matter, and therewith all their beautiful colors; the smallest retained their form, and only appeared rather paler in the other colors than when they were living.
"During the course of last summer, among other spiders, I met with a rare species; it was of a bright yellow color, elegantly marked with black, red, green, and purple; by some accident it was unfortunately crushed to pieces in the chip-box wherein it was confined, and was, therefore, thrown aside as useless; a month or more after that time I observed that such parts of the skin as had dried against the inside of the box, retained the original brightness of color in a considerable degree. To further the experiment, I made a similar attempt, with some caution, on the body of another spider, and, though the colors were not perfectly preserved, they appeared distinct.
"From further observations I find, that if you kill the spider and immediately after extract the entrails, then inflate them by means of a blow-pipe, you may preserve them tolerably well; you must clean them on the inside no more than is sufficient to prevent mouldiness, lest you injure the colors, which certainly, in many kinds, depend on substance that lies beneath the skin."
Scorpions, and all the spider tribe, may be sent home in spirits, which will preserve them perfectly, and when taken out and dried, they will be found to have suffered nothing from their immersion. We have seen some specimens set up, after being sent home in spirits, which rivaled any which have been preserved in a recent state. The animals of this class are particularly liable to the attacks of insects, particularly in warm countries, on which account the mode of transporting them and keeping them in spirits is, perhaps, superior to all others. If, however, they are set up in a warm climate, they should be well soaked with the solution of corrosive sublimate, made according to the recipe of Mr. Waterton.
For the setting up of this class, see the directions for preserving insects.