Care & Handling

Opening Your Shipment

As soon as you receive your shipment open the contents carefully. Check against the packing list before discarding anything. Save the packing list for possible future reference. Immediately care for the specimens following the procedure outlined here for your specific specimens (a copy of this information is enclosed with your shipment). If there is a shortage of specimens or they are damaged, follow the procedures under “Replacement Procedure”.

Replacement Procedure

Berkshire Biological can not replace orders without this information:

1. Note the date you received the shipment.
2. Make note of any information that might help the lab determine the cause of the problem.
3. Phone Berkshire Biological at 1 (800) 462 – 1382
4. Berkshire Biological must be notified of any shortages or problems within 48 hours of receipt of your order. Cost of replacement after 2 (two) days becomes the responsibility of the customer.

Please Note:
All shipments contain more organisms than you will need for your activities. If any of your specimens have expired prior to arrival, be sure to count the remaining organisms to determine if you have enough for your activities before calling for replacement.

Unwanted Specimens

CAUTION: DO NOT RELEASE THIS LIVING MATERIAL INTO YOUR LOCAL ENVIRONMENT!

If this live material can not be maintained with security in your classroom or laboratory, it should be destroyed.

All organisms can be terminated or anesthetized by low temperatures. Freeze plants and invertebrates to dispose of them.

If released, any organism not native to your local environment has the potential of destroying the ecological balance. This applies to everything from algae and daphnia to snails and frogs.

Algae (Chlamydomonas)
Remove cap immediately and place where it will receive good light without excessive heat.

Anacharis (Elodea)
Keep wet. Cover completely with spring water. Place where it will receive some light, but not direct sunlight.

Aphids
Take off lid. The bottom half holds a pellet with a pea seedling and aphids. Check inside of top for stray aphids which may be carefully brushed onto seedling with a small paint brush. If pellet seems dry, add enough water to wet thoroughly. Place seedling, in cup, in cool place where it will receive some light, but not direct sunlight.

Butterfly Larvae (Painted Lady)
The larvae are shipped with their own food in their shipping container.

More About the Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui)

Description and Natural History
The Painted Lady butterfly is one of the most common of all butterflies. It, like other insects, has three pairs of legs, but the front pair is reduced in size. The front legs are too short to be useful for walking and are kept folded against the chest. Painted Ladies have hairy front legs and hence are grouped with other brush-footed butterflies.

The wingspan is 4.5 to 6 cm (1.75 to 2.25 inches). The tops of the wings are white, orange, brown, and black. The undersides also have tan, blue, and purple. The tips of the forewings are black with white spots and smooth (not ragged) edges. The Painted Lady’s natural habitat is open woods, meadows, and deserts all over the United States and Mexico and much of Canada.

Painted Lady caterpillars feed on such plants as fiddleneck, nettle, and hollyhock; the adults feed on nectar from any flower. An adult sucks out the flower nectar by means of a long proboscis. Taste receptors on the second two pairs of legs enable the butterfly to taste sweet liquids with its feet. Contact of these organs with the petals of a flower sets off a reflex that uncoils the long, flexible proboscis that can be worked into the smallest opening to reach the flower nectar. In feeding, these butterflies pollinate and cross-pollinate a vast number of plants.

Metamorphosis of a butterfly has four distinct development stages: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalid), and adult. At room temperature the Painted Lady butterfly remains in the egg stage for 4 days, in the larval stage for 12 to 18 days, and in the pupal stage for about 8 days. The adults mate and begin laying eggs within 4 days after they emerge from the pupal stage.

At normal room temperature, growth of the caterpillars will be rather fast. From 7 to 11 days after you receive them, the caterpillars will have finished their growth and will have changed to the pupal stage (chrysalids). Butterfly larvae form chrysalids, characterized by a hard casing surrounding the pupae. Butterfly larvae do not spin cocoons; cocoons are protective casings built by moth larvae.

After the adult emerges from the chrysalid, a red liquid, called meconium, is sometimes forced from the tail of the butterfly. It is left over from wing formation, along with the unneeded tissues of the caterpillar. The butterfly will pump fluid into its wings to help them unfold. The wings will dry and harden within 24 hours.

Classroom Care and Maintenance
You will receive several butterfly larvae and one dark layer of food in a plastic cup with some filter paper on top. Open the container and gently touch each larva with a stick to see if it moves. Care and feeding instructions will accompany the shipment.

The caterpillars can take a fairly wide range of temperatures. Growth stops at or below about 10 degrees Celsius (about 50 degrees Farenhiet) and at or above about 43 degrees Celsius (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit). Optimum temperature is about 30 degrees Celsius (about 85 degrees Farenhiet). Keep the caterpillars out of direct sun, and don’t let them freeze.

Feeding the larvae is simple; just keep them on the prepared food in which they were shipped. If it is already prepared, put the container into the future butterfly housing. Until the larvae pupate (form chrysalids), they must spend most of their time eating, inside the small container.

The larvae will feed and grow for 7 to 10 days. Then they will crawl to the top of the container and hang down. After about a day the skin splits down the back; underneath are the chrysalids. They will soon harden and change to a golden color. Two days after the larvae pupate, remove the paper disk with the chrysalids attached. They are now ready to be placed in a butterfly house.

Making a Butterfly House
You can make a butterfly house out of a cardboard box by cutting large windows on all four sides of the box and covering the windows with clear plastic or mosquito netting. Attach the plastic or netting over the windows on the inside of the butterfly house. If you use plastic, be sure to make 20 or 30 pencil-sized holes in the top of the cardboard box to allow air to enter the butterfly house. The papers with the chrysalids may be attached to the inside walls of the butterfly house with masking tape. If using a Butterfly Tower, attach the papers to the netting with common pins.

Be sure each chrysalid is free-hanging in its downward position. Add a few twigs to the butterfly house, being sure to lean them against the sides in stable positions. The adult butterflies will alight on these twigs and small branches. When the cyrysalids are about 7 to 10 days old, they will darken. Wing color will begin to show through. The adults will emerge within 12 to 24 hours.

The butterflies will not be hungry immediately after emerging. They have food stored in their bodies for the first day or two. They will live from 1 to 3 weeks, depending largely on the regularity with which they are fed.

To feed the adults, prepare a 5% solution of household sugar water (1 part sugar to 20 parts water). Pour the solution into a shallow dish and put in some cotton balls or pieces of sponge to act as wicks. Change the solution every 2 days to prevent spoilage.

Provide plants or crumpled facial tissues on which the female butterflies may lay their eggs. Observe daily for butterfly mating and egg-laying behavior.

Disposal
If it is necessary to dispose of any of the butterflies, freeze and discard them in plastic bags.

Chameleons
Place a crumpled paper towel in the terrarium. Break seal of shipping container and quickly empty chameleons into terrarium and close lid. Spray spring water on inside walls and vegetation daily. Chameleons will drink from shallow dishes. They will need no feeding until class time.

Crayfish
Open shipping container at once. Float container upright in an aquarium of spring water about 10 to 15 minutes to equalize temperatures. When the temperatures are equal (test with finger of clean, soap-free hand), pour contents into a dip net, rinse with spring water, and quickly transfer crayfish to your aquarium. Discard shipping water. A cover for your aquarium is suggested to prevent escape. Provide live floating plants such as Anacharis or Hornwort for resting spots. They eat flaked fish food.

Cricket Eggs
If not used right away, these eggs may be held in their shipping container and media for two to three days at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, if necessary. You may notice some mold on your cricket eggs. This is common and will not affect the viability of your eggs.

Crickets
Crickets are shipped in a box with crumpled paper. They dislike overcrowding and should be transferred to a terraria as soon as possible. To empty box, slit tape. Turn upside down over terrarium, shake box. Paper and crickets will fall out. Some crickets may cling to the box. Brush them in the terrarium and close the lid.

Dragonfly and Damselfly Larvae
Open jar immediately. Hungry larvae will attack each other; therefore, we suggest that they be placed in separate containers of room temperature spring water as soon as possible. Add several sprigs of Hornwart and a supply of Daphnia if possible.

More About Dragonfly Nymphs

Dragonfly nymphs are larvae of the commonly called “Devil’s Darning Needle” or “Mosquito Hawk,” native to the woodland ponds and swampy areas of the world. There are 450 species of dragonflies native to North America alone. The nymphs develop buried in the muddy shallows where they consume huge numbers of mosquitoes and other insects. They are considered beneficial insects by man, as they reduce populations of pest insects in their surrounding environment.

Nymphs can be introduced to ponds, marshes, swamps, and other slow-moving waterways where they will complete their metamorphosis into adults and continue to prey upon mosquitoes in large quantities. The nymphs will climb out of the water onto waterside vegetation and hatch. The females mate and lay eggs in the areas surrounding the water, and the cycle continues.

As dragonfly nymphs are cannibalistic, be sure not to keep them in an overcrowded condition. Upon receiving the nymphs, release immediately into the water, spacing them several feet apart to insure an adequate food supply. As long as there are sufficient numbers of other insects to hunt, cannibalism will not become a problem. One to two hundred nymphs can be maintained comfortably on an acre of swampy land.

Daphnia
Do not net Daphnia because they must be kept in water at all times. Upon arrival, transfer Daphnia by using a kitchen baster or by pouring them into a one gallon container or more of either pond or spring water. If transfer is not possible, Daphnia may be kept for a short time, in the original shipping container if it is uncapped and left in a cool place (60-65 degrees Fahrenheit).

Duckweed (Wolffia)
Loosen cap. May be kept in jar until transfer to spring water. Keep in bright spot, but not in direct sunlight once transferred. Keep plants trimmed to pleasing dimensions, and occasionally groom by removing dead or unwanted leaves and pinching to discourage “leggy” growth.

Earthworms
Keep cool.

Fiddler Crabs (freshwater)
Open shipping container at once. Float upright in aquarium of spring water to equalize temperature. When temperatures are equal (test with finger of clean, soap-free hand), pour contents of container through a dip net and quickly transfer crabs to the aquarium. Discard the shipping water. Provide the crabs with live aquatic plants such as Anacharis for food and a resting spot. A cover for your aquarium is suggested to prevent escape.

Fontinalis
Keep wet. Cover completely with spring water. Place where it will receive some light but not direct sunlight. Fontinalis is a floating plant in the aquarium.

Foxtail
Keep wet. Cover completely with spring water. Place where it will receive some light but not direct sunlight. Foxtail should be rooted in the gravel or sand of the aquarium. Keep plants trimmed to pleasing dimensions, and occasionally groom by removing dead or unwanted leaves and pinching to discourage “leggy” growth.

Frogs
Carefully open container, rinse with spring water, and quickly place in covered terrarium. This environment should provide both ample water and some “land” surface such as a flat rock. Slightly tipping one end of an aquarium holding a few inches of spring water will create dry and wet areas for your amphibians. If held for a short time, your frogs will need no feeding until class time.

Frog Eggs
Frog eggs can be loaded into an aquarium filled with spring water. Keep out of direct sunlight. Tadpoles should be seen within 5-7 days. You will need to begin to feed them. Not all frog eggs will hatch. This is disappointing, but so many factors can stop development that this happens sometimes.

Fruit Flies
Keep fly cultures at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Add a few drops of water if culture dries out. Keep food vials in refrigerator.

Guppies
Float unopened bag in container of spring water for about 10-15 minutes to equalize the temperature. When temperatures are equal (test with finger of clean soap-free hand), pour contents of bag through a dip net. Rinse with spring water of same temperature. Transfer guppies from net to container of spring water. Discard shipping water.

Hermit Crabs (Tree Crabs)
Rinse with tepid spring water and place in terrarium. Provide a shallow dish of water and food (cereal, granola).

Hornwort
Keep wet. Cover completely with spring water. Place where it will receive some light but not direct sunlight. Hornwort is a floating plant in the aquarium. Keep plants trimmed to pleasing dimensions, and occasionally groom by removing dead or unwanted leaves and pinching to discourage “leggy” growth.

Hydra
Open cap to admit air. Store in cool place until use.

Isopods (Sowbugs)
Sowbugs are shipped in a container with damp paper and a “breathing” cap to provide both moisture and air. Place them in a suitable terraria with soil, seeds, and water as soon as possible. Discard cardboard and paper.

Ladybugs
Ladybugs should be released into to a feeding environment as soon as possible. You may provide a sponge soaked with sugar water. If storage is necessary, keep refrigerated at approximately 35 degrees Fahrenheit in their shipping container.

Lily Bulbs (dwarf aquatic)
These bulbs may be held for a short time in their shipping container. Keep cool. Plant bulbs in the gravel or sand of an aquarium filled with spring water as soon as possible.

Lizards & Food Set
Includes 2 anoles with wingless drosophila (fruit flies) or feeder crickets. Anoles change color from green to brown, and will climb towards the light source for warmth. Anoles will not drink from the aquarium – they must lick water from leaves or the glass walls. Spray mist the tank daily if normal condensation does not supply enough water. Anoles are voracious eaters – therefore feed daily. Crawling or flying soft-bodied live insects such as crickets, beetle larvae, termites, house flies, wax moth larvae, may be offered.

Mealworm Beetles
Mealworm beetles are shipped in a container with a “breathing” cap to provide air. They need no special care but should be used as soon as possible, as they have a rather short life span. If kept in a bran-filled container with a small piece of potato for moisture then the beetles will lay eggs and start another life cycle.

Mealworms
Store in a cool place 45 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Mealworms may be refrigerated as long as several weeks, but it is not recommended. If left at room temperature, they will soon pupate. They will eat bran and slices of potato.

Newts
Open shipping container at once. Float container upright in aquarium of spring water about 10-15 minutes to equalize temperatures. When the temperatures are equal (test with finger of clean, soap-free hand), pour contents into a dip net. Rinse with spring water, and quickly transfer newts to your aquarium. Discard shipping water. A cover for your aquarium is suggested to prevent escape. Provide live floating plants such as Anacharis or Hornwort for resting spots. No feeding will be needed until class time in short-term holding.

Newts & Food Set
Includes 2 newts and wingless drosophila (fruit flies). Newts are amphibious, and at times will burrow under leaves or twigs inside the river tank, as their normal habitat is in deep woods under fallen leaves. They will also swim under cover of the aquatic vegetation in your tank. Feed newts twice weekly – chopped raw meat or earthworms, mealworms, enchytreaus, tubifex, or other insects. Remove any uneaten food from the tank (if the scavengers don’t assist) to reduce mold contamination.

Platys
Open shipping container at once. Float container upright in aquarium of spring water about 10-15 minutes to equalize temperatures. When the temperatures are equal (test with finger of clean, soap-free hand), pour contents into a dip net. Rinse with spring water, and quickly transfer Platys to your aquarium. Discard shipping water. A cover for your aquarium is suggested to prevent escape. Provide live floating plants such as Anacharis or Hornwort for resting spots. No feeding will be needed until class time in short-term holding.

Sagittaria
Keep wet. Cover completely with spring water. Place where it will receive some light but not direct sunlight. Sagittaria should be rooted in the gravel or sand of an aquarium filled with spring water as soon as possible.

Scavenger Set
Includes 2 aquatic snails, 2 freshwater fiddler crabs, and 1 Chinese Algae Eater or Plecostomus. These organisms will consume algae and debris that occur in a natural ecosystem. If necessary, fiddler crabs may be fed flake food, small pieces of raw meat, or chopped earthworms. Do not overfeed – every other day to twice per week is sufficient.

Snails – Land
Land snails are active only in a humid environment. Place them in a prepared terrarium as soon as possible. You may provide bran or bone meal and potato slices for food.

Snails – Pond
If snails are to be held for more than a few hours before transfer to aquaria, place bag in cup or similar upright container to prevent tipping and open top of bag. Rinse with spring water before transferring to aquaria.

Tubifex Worms / Black Worms
Dump sand and worms into fine dip net. Rinse with cold water and place sand and worms into aquarium.

Wax Moth Larvae
If storage is necessary, they may be held in their shipping containers at 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit for a short time.