Insects submitted for identification must be properly collected and packaged.
Collect whole insects in good condition
Large live insects:
- Invert a plastic cup over the insect
- Slide a piece of card or other rigid paper under the cup and under the legs of the insect so that the insect steps onto the paper.
- Turn the cup right side up so that the paper or card covers the mouth of the cup and prevents the insect from escaping
- Secure paper with a rubber band or tape
- Alcohol may be added to the container to preserve the insect or it may be submitted alive
Hard bodied insects (beetles, bugs)
A plastic or glass jar containing 70 – 90% ethyl isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol can be used to kill and preserve the specimens. It is not advisable to use water for this purpose.
Moths and Butterflies:
The live specimens can be killed in the freezer and stored between folded tissue paper and placed in an envelope or sealed in a crush proof container during transport to the lab.
Fragile soft bodied insects (mites, thrips, aphids, scales):
Place infested plant part into an inflated plastic bag to prevent the crushing of the specimens or cut plant parts into small pieces and immerse in a container containing 70 – 90% alcohol. Do not try to remove these specimens from the plant surface as body parts necessary for identification may become detached or be crushed in the process.
Small caterpillars, grubs or maggots:
These can be sent in a plastic bag on the host material or placed in a container (with food material), covered with a perforated cloth material and held in place with an elastic band.
The following information will be required for all samples being submitted.
- Name of Collector
- Address collected (Area and parish)Date collected
- Where found on: host plant (give stage of growth), animal
- Level of Infestation (low, medium, moderate, high))
- Describe the damage
- Planting history (When established, soil type, fertilizer use, pesticide use etc.).
Use of Digital Imaging
This format only provides tentative identification of pests which may be sufficient for the purpose of providing recommendations to alleviate the pest problem. However, for final confirmation the actual specimen will be required especially if species identification is required.
Taking the photos
- Take image of the damage or nests. Photograph damage where it is close to normal plant tissue, lumber or food products etc.
- Use a contrasting background to the specimen. Use an intensity light that best depicts the accurate colour of the specimen.
- If many specimens are present, take many of them in one frame.
- Select the best preserved specimen to provide a close up image of the entire top, bottom and head. When imaging the head, try to get the base of the antennae, eyes and mouth in focus. For specimens flattened side-to-side, such as fleas, a side view will be needed.
Sending Images via Email
Digital images of pests and diseases can be sent to the Plant Protection Unit as an attachment from your normal email programme. The file size of attached photographs should be no larger than 75 KB each. This is necessary to ensure that the images can be downloaded when connection speeds and/or modems are slow.
To ensure the images are small enough and of the required quality to send and be down loaded, please carry out the following guidelines.
- Save them in JPEG (.jpg) format.
- Ensure that the image quality is set at basic or the lowest quality and the image VGA (640 x 480 pixels). At these settings the file size should be under 75 KB and will take about 25 seconds to transfer with a 28.8 Kbps connection.
- When taking the image place a ruler or a common item, such as a coin, next to the specimen so that the relative size can be determined.
Author : Gloria Lavine
Department: Plant Protection/Entomology