“Subject: Genetalia vials
I have been using small genitalia vials (10mm x 4mm) that I purchased from BioQuip. They say they are no longer made and they only have them in 15mm x 5mm …Can anyone steer me toward a good supplier for glass vials?”
If you aren’t an entomologist, or living with one, you may not understand the entomological obsession with genitalia.* There are lots of very similar looking insects. (There’s whole groups of moths commonly known as “LBJs”. They aren’t named after the president–LBJ stands for “little brown jobs.”)
Sometimes the only way to tell similar looking insects apart is to look at the naughty bits. Because species are defined by reproductive isolation, similar looking outsides may hide radically different-looking innards.
So, for about the last 100 years, entomologists have been hunched over insect nether parts, trying to figure out what species they were looking at. Since there is …..shrinkage….after death, the squidgy bits are commonly removed from specimens and stored in in tiny vials full of preservative. Hence: the email.
The study of insect genitalia is so important, all sorts of devices have been invented and devised for just that purpose. I could swear that I had covered the phalloblaster at the Bug Blog before, but apparently not. Because of the…shrinkage…it can be difficult to get the male genitalia to expand enough to see important details. Some clever Aussies invented a device to…err. Apply pressure in the proper spot?
“The Phalloblaster inflates the genitalia with a stream of pressurised alcohol to create the same shape as when the insect was alive.”
The alcohol dehydrates and hardens the structure, so that once the process is over the genetalia remain inflated rather like miniature balloons. It makes them easier to study.”
Of course, this device is properly called the vesica everter. But who the hell would call it that when you can say PHALLOBLASTER? (You can visit this page and see a post-mortem insect “erection” in action.)
If you would like to look at more photos of bug dongs studied using the Phalloblaster, you can check out this article on bumpy beetle penises. BTW, the proper name for an insect intromittent organ is an aedeagus. I thought you would want to know.
*I keep telling you, it’s perfectly normal that I’m obsessed with sex. It’s all part of science!