Since the start of October, I’ve been working in the entomology department here at The Manchester Museum. My main task has involved working with acollection of British dragonfly specimens.

Dragonfly drawer

The task has involved creating a database with the main focus on collection location data. Other information such as collection date and the name of the collector, if available, is also added.

In order to get the required info, a steady hand is needed along with a pair of fine point tweezers to grab hold of the label. With older specimens the tweezers are really useful to get hold of the label properly without damaging it or the specimen with clumsy fingers!


Once the label is off, it’s then time to decipher what is actually on the label. Most of these are easy enough, (using a quick Google search to confirm what I’m reading from the label is a real place) but unfortunately some are so faded/damaged that it is impossible to get any useful information from them.


I have also repaired any specimens that are damaged as I have come across them (mostly broken abdomens and heads that have fallen off). Phil, the Curatorial Assistant in Entomology, has shown me his most preferred method of doing this simply using PVA glue and the tip of a pin. Once the pieces of the specimen have been put together in the right place (i.e. no abdomens for heads or heads for abdomens) it’s a simple use of 2 more pins crossed over underneath the body part for support as the glue sets. Below shows a specimen, with it’s abdomen being supported with the 2 pins, as the glue sets.

Dragonfly repair

And here is the same specimen, with the pins removed (just to show it worked!).

Dragonfly without pins



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