The phalloblaster, mark 2

Pump it up! A tiny glass capillary allows the "internal sac" of many an insect penis to be reinflated long after its demise. (From Hünefeld et al., 2013. Micr. Res. Techn., 76: 258-262)

Pump it up! Tiny glass capillary allows “internal sac” of many an insect penis to be reinflated long after its demise. (From Hünefeld et al., 2013. Micr. Res. Techn., 76: 258-262)

I was reading Kees Moeliker’s De Bilnaad van de Teek (“The Tick’s Anal Crack–only available in Dutch sofar) last night and came across a little genital factoid that was new to me: the “Phallobaster”, a device invented by Australia’s CSIRO for re-inflating dried and shriveled insect genitalia in pinned specimens. Not to revive their sexual function postmortem, but to get a good impression of the exact shape of the genitalia, which, as  highlighted in other posts, is essential for proper identification of many insects. While searching for the scientific literature on this 1998 invention, I came across a paper by Frank Hünefeld and colleagues of the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität in Jena, Germany, who last year published an improved design for the Phalloblaster. The inventors say their machine is simpler, cheaper, and uses easily-produced glass capillaries, which means that even the tiniest of insects can be restored to their former priapic glory! (Patent hung.)

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