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Insect Identification Service

These are just a few examples of the kinds of questions that the MSU Extension Entomology Insect Identification Lab can help answer for concerned home owners and commercial producers.  The primary goal of this service is to provide Mississippi citizens with identification and management recommendations for insect pests that affect their homes, their gardens, or the crops they are trying to produce.  The lab also works closely with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and observant Mississippi citizens to help facilitate early detection of new invasive insect pests that appear in the state.

Services:

  • Identification of insect specimens mailed to the lab
  • Identification of digitally submitted insect images
  • Insect pest management recommendations provided when appropriate

Fees:

No charge for individual samples submitted by Mississippi citizens.

Send Physical Samples to:

Extension Insect ID Lab
103 Clay Lyle Entomology Building
Mississippi State, MS  39762-9775
(662) 325 2085
(662) 325 8837 (Fax)

E-mail digital images to:

blayton@entomology.msstate.edu

Sample Submission Form--please complete and send with sample:

Plant Disease Diagnosis and Insect Identification Form

Tips for Packaging and Submitting Samples:

  • The quality of the identification and control recommendation depends on the condition of the sample and the detail of the supporting information submitted with the sample. Insects that are simply stuck in an envelope and mailed usually get so broken or crushed that they are impossible to identify. Take time to package the sample properly.
  • Small insects and soft-bodied insects like caterpillars, as well as spiders, must be placed in alcohol (preferably ethyl alcohol, but isopropyl will work) or vinegar in a small leak proof container. Then wrap the container in paper towels or other padding and pack in a crush-proof box. This is the best/preferred way to send most insect samples, including large, hard-bodied insects like beetles, crickets, etc.
  • Large, hard-bodied insects such as adult beetles, grasshoppers, wasps, or true bugs, as well as butterflies and moths, can be wrapped in tissue paper or paper towels and placed inside a small, crush-proof container so they will not jostle around in shipping.  Shipping in alcohol is better (except for butterflies and moths), but this method usually works for large, hard bodied specimens. Dead, dry insects that can jostle around in their shipping container usually arrive without legs and antennae, and legs and antennae are very important in insect identification.
  • Include information on where the sample was collected and why it is being submitted.  Do you want information on how to control the insect or do you just want to know what it is?  For plant feeding insects please try to provide the name of the plant the insect was collected from.  Knowing the host plant is key information for identifying many insect pests.
  • If you desire management recommendations be sure to indicate whether the pest is in a commercial or a homeowner situation.  Management recommendations for homeowner vs commercial situations vary greatly.
  • For digital images, remove specimen from bag or jar before photographing.  Strive for clear, close-up photos that show as much detail as possible.  Try to include two or three photos that show different views of the specimen.  Include information on approximate size of the specimen—either by stating the approximate length or by including a reference object in the photograph.