I really like the old naturalists, John Muir, John Burroughs, and John John James Audubon, who weren't afraid to approach animals, and who didn't wait for a government permit to touch a species for the purpose of study. John Muir made his own gun to shoot Sea Gulls. John Burroughs hunted, and he dug up the den of a weasel to see its burrow (although he regretted that choice). John James Audubon captured swallows and tagged them. Many people today seem to think it's okay for university students and government employees to make these kinds of choices, but they think children should learn about nature from the safety of the path, without physical contact with the plants and animals God made.
I have taught my children not to ever kill an animal, including an insect, just for fun. But for the occasional study, we have put insects under our homeschooling scalpel. We have learned more about butterflies, their names, their habits, and their habitats, then I had initially thought we would. They know a Gulf Fritillary and a Queen butterfly from a Monarch, they know a Giant Swallowtail from a Tiger Swallowtail, they can identify Grey Hairstreaks, Cloudless Sulphurs, American Ladies and Mourning Cloaks. And all without me sitting my children down for one lesson! That is may favorite kind of homeschooling.
Here is my process for mounting our butterfly specimens:
In my freezer:
After it's dead, the specimen goes in a butterfly envelope, and into a jar with damp paper towels and a little Pine Sol. It stays in the jar for two days, so the wings get soft:
After two days in the damp jar, The insect is pinned to a mounting board. The wings are spread out with insect forceps, held down with a little strip of paper on each side, and the paper (not the insect) is pinned to the mounting board. It dries this way for two days:
The finished product!