I spent the whole weekend gluing monofilament hair into the bedbug abdomen. There was a ton of preparation getting ready for this. I had two volunteers, Kevin Massari and Nina Petrochko, cutting 1/2″ sections of monofilament for hours on end. As a note, I should mention Bill Smalley, who cut lighter gauge monofilament for the legs, Stephanie Loeb who drilled and inserted insect pins on the flea legs, and Maishe Dickman, who fashioned the setae for the flea by turning long pins in a drill on a disc sander to get a finely graded taper and who went on-line and bought porcupine quills to use as setae for the flea.
I spent hours drilling tiny holes for the monofilament. First I used homemade drills out of insect pins flattened at the tip and sanded to a diagonal because I was breaking the tiny drills (about $3 each). As I glued the hair into these holes, I discovered the insect pin drills didn’t leave clean holes and the hairs were difficult to insert. I then redrilled all the holes with a #70 drill to clean them out. This took less time than fussing over each hair and I didn’t break a single drill.
In 2 eight hour sessions, I completely finished the ventral side of the abdomen and I am more than half way through the dorsal side. I ran out of hair though, so I hope Kevin or Nina show up this week. I cut some myself tonight and will insert those tomorrow night. I probably need another 500 more.
I have learned from making models that hair insertion is very important. I have done several facial reconstructions of fossil hominids and one of King Tut for National Geographic. I’m still learning how to make these models look most realstic, but I know it is much more effective to insert each hair individually over the head than to use a wig. In the case of the insect models, the hair is important as a creepy factor and worth the time and effort to put on.
This week at work, I will grapple with some of the other hair. I have to find something that will simulate the long hair that springs from the side and bottom of the pubic louse. Any ideas out there?