Submitting an insect, spider, mite, or other arthropods


Our services

We strive to rapidly provide you with an identification and information about your insect.  Our reports are sent out via email (we can mail a report if you do not have email but there will be a delay in you receiving results).  In your report you will receive:

We can tell you if you need to be concerned about winged ants in your home.
We can tell you if you need to be concerned about winged ants in your home.

  • Identification of insects and related arthropods 
  • General information about your insects life cycle
  • Information about if your insects is a pest and if we feel you need to take management action 
  • General information about integrated pest management options for your diagnosis 

Collecting and insect samples

  • Collect multiple (6–12) insects if you can.
  • Insects, spiders, etc. should be dead when shipped (you can freeze them overnight to kill them)
  • Mail insects 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 PIDC 45 Sample Submission Form with your sample.

Need to know if you have bed bugs? Send us a sample.
Need to know if you have bed bugs? Send us a sample.

Human Parasites: We will not examine skin, scabs, excrement or urine for other bodily fluids for insects or mites.  Scabies and other potential parasites must be diagnosed by a medical doctor.  We can identify the following human parasites: ticks, lice, fleas, bird mites and bed bugs. Small insects and mites must be taped to a white sheet of paper and circled.  

Photo shows how to properly package hard bodied insects - in a container to prevent crushing and retrained within the container (with toilet paper) to prevent damage.

Help For Those Outside of Iowa

Your local Extension Office or state Diagnostic Laboratory is the best to help you with your insect problems. 

Digital Photography for Insect Diagnosis

Here are tips to help send better pictures.

Download a printable version 

1.    Fill the frame

·    Get as close to the specimen as possible with the camera.

2.    Work with dead or chilled insects

·    Place live insects in the freezer for 15 minutes before taking the picture. They will be immobile for a few minutes before they warm up and resume moving about. Freezing overnight will kill the insect. Take the chilled/dead insect out of the bag or bottle before photographing it.

3.    Use plenty of light

·    Take photographs in a brightly lit room, next to a window or outdoors.

4.    Focus, focus, focus

·    Make sure the object wanting to be seen is clear.

·    To focus a cell phone camera, often simply tapping the screen will adjust the focus automatically. For standard point and shoot cameras, push the capture button down half-way, most cameras will then focus.

5.    Include a size-reference

·    Put a coin, pencil, ruler or yardstick (depending on size) next to the specimen in the photograph.

6.    Take several pictures (digital film is free!) but send only the best 1 or 2

7.    Take a top and a bottom shot

8.    Attach the image file to an email message

9.    Include basic information about the insect in the message

·    Provide the background information from the insect identification form 

oWhere when, what it is doing, how many, what would you like to know?

10.  Send message and images to

11.  Keep the insect

·         If we can't identify it from your photo, we may ask you to send it in.

12.  Don’t apologize

·    We’re all in this together and insect photography is difficult (they are so small!).

13.  Practice and patience

·         Pictures will get better with practice.