Attaining Immortality – Body Preservation

September 23, 2008 at 12:14 am | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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Words of Caution (again..): The following post contains highly graphical imageries not suitable for those squeamish person….read at your own risk…. 8)

Just when I thought being able to hold a huge millipede and the largest cockroach was already quite something for me, what came next was totally unexpected…

Besides the many live specimens of creepy crawlies that we had to handle at the volunteer programme that Itchyfingers joined, we had to help prepare specimen of the dead ones too! Wow! I had seen insect specimens at museums and shops, photographed them and even owned one souvenir keychain with a mini scorpion specimen cast in resin, which I discarded later cos I thought it was a bit gross to keep. :p But to preserve an insect myself…! Totally unexpected!

We entered the room and on the table there was one small box of dead insects in individual plastic bags, all still damp after being thawed. There were big and small insects: a few beetles, a scorpion, butterflies and the hissing cockroaches! We were told to choose one dead insect each. Everyone hesitated for a moment before the lady in charge ‘reminded’ us to start choosing before we were left with no choice but to take the cockroaches…Wow! Immediately people started taking her ‘offer’…:p

For some unknown reason, I found myself immediately raising up my hand when the lady picked up this insect and asked anyone wanted it…

I think I kinda regretted it after taking it…looking at the size….:O

A Junge Nymph…a kinda stick insect

It was bigger than my hand!

After everyone had chosen an insect, the lady did a demo with a beetle. Eeeee….I was getting a bit sqeamish looking at it and gosh! the smell was not very pleasant either! I was so busy switching my camera between still picture and video mode that when she finished and told us to start cutting our insects, I was a bit lost at where to start…!

Luckily, I had grabbed a fellow volunteer earlier who was also feeling a bit grossed out to “share” the huge insect. Still, It took us a while to decide who would be making the cut…:O

Gosh! This thing certainly looked menacing! Look at the spiky thorns!
These were supposed to minic thorny vegetation

Ok, enough of being courteous…or as they always said, “ladies first”. Looking at my fellow male volunteer, who didn’t even dare to sit down to be close to the insect, I took a deep breathe…Ok!! Tisu Girl shall do it! :O

Flipped it over!

It looked as if it was struggling, shouting for help….if only it was alive…

Eeeek! The mouth part looked so strange!

Ok, I took over the scalpel. “Er, cut where?”

“Just cut vertically”, my fellow volunteer replied ‘helpfully’…

I had a nasty injury on my thumb that morning. So clumsily, I made a gently cut. Nothing happen. Thought a scalpel is supposed to be so sharp that it could cut through easily…..I tried again, this time with a little bit more force…and then passed the scalpel to my fellow volunteer to cut horizontally so as to create a flap to empty the stuff inside…

See! A big guy staying on his foot so as not to get too close for comfort
with the insect, nevermind that it was dead and won’t bite back! Aiyo!

Ok, I survived the cutting part, which was not so bad. The next thing that almost took our breathe away was the smell! I couldn’t really describe the smell, but it was certainly quite horrible! And we were not the only ones cutting insects. There were at least six more volunteers sitting in the room cutting different kinds of insects of different sizes! It was so bad that the lady in charge had to spray air refresher a few times throughout the session!

Next come the cleaning of the insect. Using whatever limited and unsuitable tools left, we had to scoop and dig out the guts and whatever sh*t inside so that it would not rot and destroy the finished specimen. I sweared it was really gross having to do this part! And since our insect was such a HUGE one, it was like digging never ending! The stuff inside were mostly creamy colour, so I couldn’t help feeling it was like some kind of food people eat that were wrapped in maybe banana leaf or even crabs, where you had to scrap every bit of the content to savour it! Wow! Gross!

Nothing really suitable for digging and scooping the gross stuff effectively…

Then while we were taking turns digging and complaining why was it so tough to clear the stuff, suddenly I dug out something dark in colour. “Eeee, what’s this???” I exclaimed…and I dug out one, two, three…oh goodness…! What were these??? :O


I dun remember who said that. Eeeee! Yeeeks! She still had eggs in her body!

Wow lao! Si bay suay leh! Dunnu why I so itchy fingers chose this
Jungle Nymph to cut!

My fellow volunteers across the room sent me their utmost sincere sympathy… 😮

More eggs…:O

Hearing our ‘misfortune’, my fellow senior volunteer came to give us a helping hand. He took over the half emptied (or so we thought…) insect and skilfully dug really deep inside towards the thorax. When he took it out, me and my fellow volunteer looked at each other, totally wide eyed….I wanted to puke…:O

Eeee…dunnu what was this! Looked like some organ thingy…

Arrrgh…! No choice lor! Already started had to finish it off! So grumpily, the two of us took turns again to continue digging, scooping, pulling and checking if there were anymore gross stuff left to clean…The other folks were already starting to pin down their insects…

When we were quite sure that what could be cleaned was done and with confirmation from the lady in charge, we took some cotton wool to clean and then stuff into the body before injecting some formalin to preserve it. To conceal the cut, we had to glue it carefully. Next, we had to use hairdryer to dry it since we couldn’t afford the time to sun dry it.

Ha! My fellow volunteer finally handled the insect with his hands!
Looked like voodoo doll hor? :p

I took a break while he tried pinning the fella down, to kay poh around the room on how was everyone else doing. Wow, not bad leh!

Wow! Can open up wings! Wow, how come we din get to use gloves…?
Less gross….

The male Rhinoceros Beetle

Another Rhinoceros Beetle without opening up the wings

The only scorpion available that day

An incomplete specimen of a Dragon headed Katydid

So after spying around, I went back and told my fellow volunteer that we should try to open up our Jungle Nymph’s small wings. Being Itchyfingers, I tried to make the antennae neater without thinking that it was already dry and stiff and hor, ended up breaking it! :O

Two greenhorns in green tees frantically trying to stick back the broken
antenna of a green fella…


Yeah! I did this!

Actually we had to sun dry the specimen for few days to make sure they were completely dried up before putting up for display. But no one wanted to bring them home to do it except one senior volunteer who drove. Imagine bringing the huge nymph home….! Think my mother would start screaming…:O

Some of our prized collection…haha…someone actually did the hissing
cockroaches! :O

Here’s a video of the Jungle Nymph. I think I prefer it alive…hahah…:D

Also see related posts:
> Touch No Evil
> Invasion of the Creepy Crawlies
> Sleepless in Siam – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #2


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