How To Mount Insects In a Shadow Box?

Preserving and displaying insects is part of education and art. Some people preserve insects in frames to keep in their arthouse. Some people mount insects for museums or encyclopedia books.

But an inexperienced person should not perform the mounting process of the insects.

Insects are delicate and you can easily lose their wings or body parts if you don’t take them cautiously. If you’re mounting insects for an experiment then you have to be careful otherwise you will lose the important body parts of an Insect.

If you don’t know How to mount insects in a shadow box, then you have to research a lot before performing. This article will help you to be a part of your research and you can mount the insect in a shadow box.

Things You Need To Mount Insects In a Shadow Box

The tools for mounting insects in a shadow box have to be near your hands so that you can get them whenever you want. You can buy those tools from any market near your home.

But make sure all the tools for mounting insects should be high quality and specially designed for insects.

For example,

Do not get regular pins to nail the insects otherwise, the pins will get rusted over time. You have to buy insect pins to nail the insects. 

You can get an insect mounting kit from the market and mount insects in the shadow box.

You will get every single tool you need for mounting insects. Or you can make your mounting kit with

  • Insect collecting net
  • Hand magnifier
  • Measuring magnifier viewer
  • Feather light
  • Spread board or foam board
  • Insect pins
  • Plastic specimen tube
  • Shadowbox
  • Glass to cover the box
  • Gloves

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Process of mounting insects

The first step in mounting insects in a shadow is to catch an insect of your choice. You need an insect collecting net to catch the insect and keep it. Make sure you’re catching a big-sized insect because small insects are hard to pin and preserve.

Make sure to gently remove the insect from the insect collecting net wearing gloves. Because if you don’t wear gloves while removing the insect, the sting or teeth of the insect can harm you.

So make sure you’re being careful with gloves while removing the insect from the net. Also, be gentle while getting out the insect from the net because insects are delicate.

The second step is to choose the shadow box depending on how many insects you are going to mount in the box. A small shadow box is around 4 to 6 inches wide and a large shadow box is around 16 to 20 inches.

After choosing the shadow box,

The 3rd step is to cut the foam board.  You are required to cut a portion of the colored felt. Make sure the cut is one inch extensive on both sides of the foam board. One side of the foam board needs to be enclosed and needs to be stuck back to the foam board with glue. You have to use glue for insect mounting to stick the foam board.

Now gently fold the corners of the foam and chop extra left-out foam with the cutter. Make sure to stick the felt-covered foam board on the inside of the shadow box.

The next step is pinning the insect to the foam board. You have to make sure the pins are not regular pins to ascend the insect.

Insect pins are very significant while mounting the insect in the shadow box.  But before pinning the insect make sure to kill it with an insect-killing agent or put the insect in the freezer for 8-9 hours. It will kill the Insect eventually.

After freezing insects for 8-9 hours, take them back from the freezer and let them thaw for some house. The insect has to be malleable enough so that you can pin them. Keep in mind you have to pin the insect before it dries.

Now into the shadowbox, organize the insects and use straight pins to ascend the insects. You have to mount the insects on the felt-covered foam board.  Brace the insect in a position of a 90-degree angle through the thorax.

Hoppers and beetle should be clamped through the front part of the right wing. Make sure the pin is not damaging the leg while emerging from the insect’s bottom.

Now use the glass piece that you kept for the shadow box. Put the glass piece as the lid of the shadow box and cover the box. Now the shadow box is ready to be mounted.

You can put the shadow box anywhere. You can hang the shadow box or put it in the cabinet or the table as a showpiece.

Insect Specimen Shadow Boxes


Follow the right rules of caution before you catch and mount an insect in a shadow box. If you don’t take any precautions before mounting any insects in a shadow box then you might face problems.

Make sure to sanitize every tool before you use them to mount insects.


Bacteria will attack the insect and the insect will disintegrate in the box. Use gloves after catching the insect to avoid stinging and hitting from the insect.

Make sure to perform the mounting process very carefully so that you don’t lose any body parts of the insect.  Keep away the shadow box from the children to avoid any kind of damage.

How To Preserve Insects For Mounting

Before you mount your Insects in a shadow box, you need to preserve them so that the insects don’t disintegrate.

If your insect is soft-bodied then preserve it in plastic or glass vials with 70-80% isopropyl alcohol. You can also preserve other insects in the alcohol as well.

Butterflies, moths, and bee flies should not be preserved in alcohol otherwise the school will damage their wings.  You can preserve larvae, thrips, earwigs, mayflies, etc in the alcohol.

By preserving the insects in the alcohol, the bacteria can not attack the insect. And the insect will be safe from any kind of bacterial attack and will be protected forever. You can also put the labels and tags under the insect for their introduction.


How do you show bugs in frames?

You can show bugs in frames by displaying them in envelop or glass frames.

If you want the artistic display of specimens then you can mount them in shadow boxes, glass domes, or glass frames. Shadow boxes and double glass frames can keep the insect safe and preserved.

How do you hang dried butterflies?

You need two strips of parchment paper for each wing of the butterfly. Then keep the wings flat against the spreading board and pin them with Insect pins. But make sure you’re not pinning the wings of the butterfly or the pin can ruin the wings.

Then after pinning the butterfly, let it dry and keep it in a warm area to dry properly for four weeks. And check if the butterfly is dry and ready to be mounted.

How do you start bug taxidermy?

You need to discern some basic rules in order to taxidermy insects.

Relax your insects before pinning them to be hard and brittle. Just wait for a few days until the insects are brittle then you can start the taxidermy process. Then pin the insects on the foam board in the same process as pinning other insects. 

Then mount the insects in the display case or in the shadow box to finish the taxidermy process of the insect.

Where do you place a Bug Box?

You should place a bug box in a warm and dry place on your balcony or another place where sunlight can reach. You can leave the bug box in the planted container.


Display the bug box in an art house as part of your art. You can use the bug box as an experiment for your school project as well. But make sure to keep the bug box away from children and other living insects to protect the bugs.

How do you make a relaxing chamber for insects?

You require decent sand and put them in the bottom of a large airtight jar. You have to place one or two inches of sand or you can use sawdust to make a relaxing chamber for insects.

You have to choose a large jar to place dishes inside it. The container needs to be airtight and sealed to create a relaxing chamber for insects.


Whether it’s for an art display or your school project, knowing how to mount insects in a shadow box will help you to gain more knowledge about insect anatomy.

You will be experienced and can help your junior or siblings to mount any insect in a shadow box. Mounting insects are a part of art and history.

People will know more about the insects that don’t live in this world anymore.  The insect’s mounting process is a hard yet delicate process to perform and it should be performed by an experienced hand.

Peter Robert

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