Ok everyone, here is my first tutorial on how to prepare and preserve insects. Many of you wouldn't think to spend valuable time on insects which you could spend on actual taxidermy. However, you can use the techniques of drying insects and arachnids to incorporate prey into your taxidermy mounts. You can have a duck eating an insect. Have a small bird eating a cicada or a squirrel chasing one. Just incorporating real insects can add a lot to a mount. With that said, here is how I have found is the best way to preserve a big "meaty" insect.
Madagascan Giant Hissing cockroaches are one of the largest roach species, therefore the most eye catching species to mount. I have a breeding colony in a large heated tub with another species of tropical roach (Dubia roaches) that I feed my reptiles. Hissers have a very fat abdomen that is full of internal organs and other innards that would make it difficult to make look realistic if let to dry on it's own. They would more likely rot than dry, not to mention they stink like crazy when dead...
Here is what you need to have to prepare a roach like this using my method.
Silicone (I use the 3 hour rain ready kind because that's just what I had)
Scissors (the thinner the blades, the better)
Scalpel blade (having it not attached to a handle makes it easier and more precise.)
Pins (I just use sewing pins from Walmart $1 to $2 for about 100-150 pins) insect pins would make it easier.
The first thing I do is turn the roach on it's side and use either the scalpel blade or a pin to try to separate the area between the exoskeleton on the "rim" of the abdomen.
What you want to do is cut the part that attaches the top and bottom of the exoskeleton together. This soft area is where the insect breaths and forces air out to make the "hissing" sound. You will want to be careful not to rip the segments apart. Use the scalpel blade to slide in this area and saw back and fourth up the side of the roach to separate the top from the bottom. There will be a "ligament" on every segment that will be what you have to cut through.
Do this on both sides and on the rear of the abdomen.
(Tutorial continued by next post...)