Start with good quality and light weight pinning boxes

(available from BioQuip:

For smaller numbers of specimens

For larger numbers of  specimens

unit tray shipping container
Unit tray shipper with polyfoam insert
Cat. No. 1025BX
folding insect box
Folding insect box
Cat. No. 1002F or 1002FX
Before adding specimens – check bottom of pinning container!
  • Sometimes the foam bottom is not adequately glued down (small) or not glued in to begin with (large)
  • If this is the case:
    • Coat bottom with glue
    • Add foam pinning layer
    • Add weight
    • Allow to dry
glueing bottom on box
Place support pins around outside
support pins
Pin ½ cotton ball in one corner
cotton ball
  • Used to capture a head or leg or other body part if it falls off during shipping
  • Light parts of insects tend to lodge in the soft cotton fibers
  • May be possible to associate part with specimen
Cut cardboard inner lid
  • Set the pinning box upside down on a piece of corrugated cardboard
  • Draw shape with pencil
  • Cut out cardboard – should be just slightly smaller than outer edge of box
cut inner lid
Add specimens
box with specimens
Make sure that specimens are securely pinned
If specimens are long and may swivel on pin – add support pins If specimen has an attachment (like genitalia vial) – add support pins
support pins for long specimen

Straight along sides or an inverted “V"
support pins for genitalia vial

Inverted “V” with straight up pin at end
Add cardboard inner lid
  • Gently set cardboard inner lid on top of specimen
  • Make sure lid is stable and fits well inside pinning box
  • If necessary, add extra support pins in empty areas of pinning box
  • Fold a piece of tape to make a “handle” for easy removal of inner lid
inner lid
Add filler to top of insert
  • You want to make sure that the space between the cardboard insert and box lid are filled
  • Use folded paper towel or piece of bubble wrap to fill space
paper towel
Add lid and label
Tape lid so it is securely shut

tape lid
Add business card or address label to top of container
lid with
Put pinning box into shipping box half filled with foam “peanuts” – make sure you have at least 2 inch margins on all sides (sides and top/bottom)
box in box
Fill box to just over rim with foam peanuts
filled box

When you close and tape down lid, you should have to

smash down the peanuts just a bit to get lid to close
Tape, label, and ship
  • Remove all old labels and mark out any old printed addresses or info if you are re-using a cardboard shipping box
  • Tape the box well with good quality shipping tape or strapping tape
  • You may want to wrap box in brown shipping paper, especially if old box has lots of markings on it (be sure to put address on box itself and outer wrapping paper!)
  • Use red ink marker to write “Fragile” on several sides of box (or use stickers labeled “Fragile”)
  • Include both return address and shipping address on front
  • Mail package. USPS Priority Mail usually cheaper than UPS or other shipping companies – I usually pay the little extra for tracking
For a PowerPoint version of these instructions, click HERE