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Department of Entomology
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

IDENTIFYING YOUR PEST PROBLEM

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The first step in solving any pest problem effectively and safely is correct identification of the pest. Your county Cooperative Extension Service Center can provide assistance in identifying a pest problem locally or with the help of the NCSU-Plant Disease and Insect Clinic (PDIC). Specimens that are in poor condition are difficult (often impossible impossible) to identify. Here's what you should do to help us solve your problem:


Digital Images

You can submit digital images to the PDIC for identification through your county Cooperative Extension Center.
The images should be in JPG format and a have a maximum size of approximately 1000 KB. Whenever possible, include a ruler or a common object, such as a penny or dime, to provide a size reference for the specimen (or damage) in question. Please check the quality/clarity of the image before you send it to us. Images that are out of focus are useless for identification purposes and may prevent us fromn providing you with any practical advice on correcting a problem.

Preserving Specimens

  1. Most "hard-bodied" insects, such as cockroaches, termites, beetles, flies, wasps, and ants can be captured in glass/plastic jars. If you're going to ship the specimen to your county CES officeor to NCSU, then a better choice of containers would be prescription vials, film canisters or something similar, to reduce damage during shipping. Use tissues/toilet paper as packing material in the container to cushion the specimen.
  2. "Soft-bodied" insects and other arthropods, such as maggots, spiders, mites, etc. should be sent in 70 percent alcohol. Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) can be used. Plain water is not preferred because the specimens will start to decay quickly and will become unrecognizeable and unidentifiable.
  3. Wood or other stuctural materials should be packaged in newspaper, styrofoam "peanuts", bubble wrap or some other material that will minimize disturbing or further damaging the sample.
  4. Whenever possible, collect several specimens. If you collect them from different areas of a home or other building, please keep them separate and make appropriate notations identifying where they were collected.
  5. We do not normally return specimens. If you need the specimen returned to you, please indicate so very clearly.

Some Precautions:

  • Never put insects unprotected in an envelope. They will get crushed during mail handling and this may prevent us from providing an accurate identification.
  • Never send in specimens without including the minimal information (see below). This information is important for our records and may be critical to providing accurate help in solving any problem.
  • Do not wrap insects in adhesive tape. This usually makes difficult for us to see key features needed to identify the specimens.
  • Do not stick insects to paper using cellophane tape unless this is suggested by the staff at NCSU or the NCCES office. Do not place them in an empty vial or overcrowd them as they will decay, or get broken, or both.
  • Never leave a sample exposed to sunlight or high temperatures (e.g., in a closed car), even for a few minutes; "cooked" samples may be impossible to diagnose.
  • During our busier spring-summer months, specimens that arrive badly damaged, in poor condition and/or without data will be examined as time permits.
Important: Data submitted with insects must be complete and accurate. Please use the insect identification forms available at your local county Cooperative Extension Service Center or CLICK HERE to download the form (pdf document).

Pest control recommendations often depend on accurate information that you provide about the sample and the circumstance under which it was found. Please include the following information:

  1. Date specimen was collected - the date specimen was actually found, not the date received by county agent or other second party.
  2. Town and county where sample was collected - The town and county listed should be the location where insect was specimen actually found, which may not be the same as the collector's, agent’s or a property owner’s address. If not found within a town, please give the nearest town.
  3. Name of collector - The name of the person who actually captured or collected the insect and can provide other details as needed. County agent or other second party should be listed separately from that of the collector.
  4. Area(s) where specimens were found? For example - in kitchen, on window sill, bathroom, closet, carport, in a box of food, etc. Be as specific as possible, particularly about whether the pest was found indoors or outdoors.
  5. Approximate number and frequency of pests seen - How many have been seen? When was the pest/damage first seen. Has this been a recurring problem?
  6. Any corrective measures that have been tried - for example, if pesticides have been applied by (by you or by a pest control company).

Other information such as phone (and fax numbers), as well as street/mailing address and email address,should be indicated on form. CLICK HERE to see an example of how to fill out the form.

 

Current Fee Schedule

North Carolina Samples

  • $20.00 per sample submitted through Cooperative Extension Service, NCSU or NCDA personnel.
  • $30.00 per sample if submitted directly to the PDIC.
  • Multiple samples from one source (site) will be treated as one sample.
  • Make check payable to "North Carolina State University" and send it along with the sample to the address listed below (depending on how you are shipping it).

Out of State Samples

  • $75.00 per sample.
  • Multiple samples of one source (site) will be treated as one sample.
  • Make check payable to "North Carolina State University" and send it along with the sample to the address listed below (depending on how you are shipping it).

Specimens may be sent by regular mail, FedEx or UPS. NC State Agencies can also use the State Courier Service:
USPS ("Regular") Mail Address
Plant Disease and Insect Clinic
Campus Box 7211
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7211

FedEx, UPS Delivery
Plant Disease and Insect Clinic
1227 Gardner Hall
100 Derieux Place
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7211
Phone: (919) 515-9530

State Courier Address
Plant Disease and Insect Clinic
Campus Box 7211 NCSU
Raleigh, NC
STATE COURIER: 53-61-21


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Last updated - 04/05/07