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Insect Samples


  • The sample to be submitted should include several specimens showing as many life stages as possible. The larva or nymphs and adults are the most useful for identification and rarely will eggs or pupae be of much value for specific identifications. Choose as many stages as possible of the larvae or nymph.
  • Include information associated with the specimen, the habitat (animal pest, plant pest, substrate), location (house, yard, field etc.), type of injury caused to host, numbers (few to numerous), and distribution (scattered, common throughout, etc.).
  • Ensure all sections of the Insect Identification Request Form are complete and submitted along with the sample.
  • The Crop Protection Lab reserves the right to refuse inappropriate samples.

Preserving and Packaging

  • Soft-bodied stages of insects should be preserved in 70 per cent alcohol or maintained in substrate (medium in which the insects are living). Alcohol may be obtained in most drug stores and larger quantities are available from laboratory supply companies.
  • Place insects in well-sealed vials or jars (plastic) and then place these in rigid containers with packing materials to prevent breakage during shipping.
  • If the insects are to be maintained in their substrate, the insect and substrate should be placed in a large plastic bag that will maintain the humidity of the sample and allow some free air.
  • If the substrate is soil or of a loose abrasive structure the insects should be removed and placed in alcohol - if this is not convenient then the substrate should be tightly enclosed in plastic to avoid injury to the insects in transit.
  • Hard bodied insects (i.e. most beetles) may be placed in a rigid container (vial, pill bottle, jar, etc.) and lightly supported with tissue paper to avoid damage during shipping.
  • Insects with easily removed scales such as butterflies and moths should ideally be pinned to a small piece of material such as Styrofoam and packed in a rigid position to avoid injury in transit.
  • When shipping live insects provide the appropriate host plant for nourishment.
  • Most insects may be killed by placing them in a freezer overnight - this can facilitate handling.

Download the Insect Identification Request Form

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