Submitting an Insect Specimen
Household pests (insects, mites, millipedes, centipedes, etc.) and incidental insects about which you are curious can be submitted to the Iowa State University Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic for identification for $10.00. Specimens can be submitted through your local county extension office, or sent directly to the Clinic at the address below.
Collecting and Mailing Household Pest Samples
Collect multiple (6–12) intact specimens if available. Specimens should be dead when shipped and mailed in a bottle, box or padded envelope. Soft-bodied insects such as caterpillars, aphids and ants, and spiders, mites and ticks can be preserved in hand sanitizer gel. Hard insects such as moths, butterflies and beetles do not need to be preserved, but they should be restrained inside the container so they don't bounce around during shipment (for example, secure a moth or butterfly inside a box with layers of dry paper toweling). Mail samples in a padded mailer or box to protect against crushing. Please include a copy of form IC 449 "Household Pest Identification" with your sample.
Office Address and DirectionsPlant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic
327 Bessey Hall
Ames, IA 50011
Directions to the clinic from I-35 as well as map of our location on Iowa State University's campus can be found here.
Digital Image Submission
As an alternative to mailing a specimen, you can e-mail a close-up digital image. Here are tips for sending usable digital images.
- Photograph dead or chilled insects. Place live insects in the freezer for 15 minutes to immobilize them before you take their picture.
- Get as close to the specimen as possible with your camera.
- Focus, focus, focus.
- Use plenty of light.
- Include a size-reference such as a coin, pencil, ruler or yardstick (depending on size) next to the specimen in your photograph.
- Take several pictures but send only the best one or two.
Attach your images to an email message. In the message explain where the insect was found, what it was doing, how many there were and other background information. Please include where you live and how best to get in touch with you. E-mail digital image to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help For Those Outside of Iowa
Your local Extension Office is the best to help you with your insect problems. Directory of U.S. Cooperative Extension System Offices.