Submitting Specimens of Insects and Their Relatives

The Utah Plant Pest Diagnostic Lab (UPPDL) provides insect and arthropod identification services. We can identify and provide information on the following:

  • Insects found on plants, structures and in other situations
  • Spiders, ticks, scorpions, mites, and other arachnids
  • Centipedes, millipedes, and a few other arthropods

We generally cannot identify mollusks, worms, or other invertebrates that are not arthropods. When possible, we will refer you to another facility or person that identifies such organisms.

Please note: Depending on the samples and life stages submitted, and the available identification resources for your specimen in the literature, we may not be able to identify your specimen to the species-level with a basic service. Often, family-level or order-level identifications are all that are required to make management recommendations and give advice on arthropod biology. We will use all available resources to identify your specimen(s) to the extent possible using microscopes when selecting a basic service. If the insect cannot be identified to the desired extent with a basic service, you can upgrade your service to a DNA identification, which will provide the highest level of identification possible. 

Steps to Preparing an Arthropod Sample (and host plant, if applicable)

  1. Collect the specimen(s) safely. Try to collect multiple specimens if able (5-6 is ideal but not required). Additionally, collecting multiple life stages (immatures and adults) can aid in identification services. Pupae and eggs can be difficult to identify, but can be submitted.
  2. Place the sample(s) in a vial or sealed container with rubbing alcohol that will not leak (70% is suitable for collection and shipment). Plastic bags are generally not recommended as specimens can get damaged, making identification challenging or impossible.
  3. If you are additionally submitting plant damage that insects have caused, please place the plant sample showing the damage in a sealed plastic bag.  
  4. Place the sample and submission form in a shipping package with packing material to avoid breakage.

What is considered one sample?

One vial containing multiple specimens found on the same plant / area of the house is considered one sample. If you need to submit different arthropods from two different plants or areas of the house, please place them in separate vials so we can properly diagnose and offer recommendations for the issues separately. This is considered two separate samples and requires payment for both samples.