Fluids for Preserving Spider Specimens


The standard preservative is 70% ethyl alcohol (grain alcohol, ethanol).   This is not easy to obtain and is often expensive.   The best substitute is 70% isopropyl alcohol.  This is usually fairly easy to obtain at a local pharmacy or drug store, sold as "rubbing" alcohol.  It is usually sold pre-mixed to 70%.  Some spider collectors use 80% alcohol in the field because the water in the bodies of the spiders will dilute the solution somewhat, and because it kills the spiders a bit faster.  If you choose to do this, just transfer the spiders to 70% alcohol when you return home.  Do not use denatured alcohol as the denaturing agent may have unpredictable effects on the long-term stability of the specimens and may make them useless for DNA analysis.  Another fluid to avoid is "ethyl rubbing alcohol."  This is denatured with other solvents such as xylene, toluene, or acetone that will damage the spider specimens.

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last revised 29 February 2000 / prepared by Clay Harris