According to entomologists, there are more than 800,000 known species of insects, with hundreds of thousands more waiting to be discovered. With such a staggering variety of insects to study, you will need stereo microscopes
to enjoy the experience of observing insects in varied angles. Indeed, kids and adults alike will benefit from the study of insects if only to gain a better appreciation for life.
Looking at Whole Insects
It is better if you start with a small insect when viewing it in its entirety. The steps are relatively simple, too, with elementary pupils getting a hand from their teachers. You have to make a slide trap for mounting the small insect, say, an ant. Just cut a thick card the size of a regular microscope slide and then cut a small slot in one side of the card. You must ensure that there is sufficient space in the slot for the small insect to fit in and move.
You will then place a clean side on each of the sides of the cards and then attach their ends with tape. You should then lift the top slide, place the small insect inside the created gap and then replace the top slide. You must then push the cut-out piece from the card back into its slot in order to trap the insect. You can then observe the live specimen via low-power stereo microscopes preferably with top lighting.
Looking at Insect Parts
However, when you want to look at larger insects, you have to remove their parts one by one by their bodies before mounting them on the slides for viewing under stereo microscopes. This will, of course, require preparation of the insect.
* Soak the insect in a washing soda solution for two days, which will soften its body. Simply mix in 100 grams of washing soda to 100 milliliter of plain water to prepare the solution.
* Gently rinse the insect with plain water after you take them out of the solution.
You must always carefully handle the insect with a pair of tweezers from soaking it in the washing soda solution to taking apart its body parts. It is also advisable to wash your hands after every handling of the insect. You want the stereo microscopes to be as clean as possible, too.
In removing the parts of the insect, place it on a mounted magnifying glass to be able to see said parts clearly. Also, try to vary the mounting position - front, side and back - just to see which one works best for your experiment.
* While holding the insect with one pair of tweezers, use another pair of tweezers to gently pull apart the body part you wish to study.
* Place the insect parts on the microscope slide with the use of mounting needles.
If you are using compound stereo microscopes, use cover slips. These slips make for easier viewing of the insect parts since compound microscopes have limited depths of field.
Indeed, with the use of stereo microscopes, you can teach your children and students the fascinating world of insects. Who knows, you might even be able to discover a new species of insects!
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