Sample Directions

For IDENTIFICATIONS at the Insect Diagnostic Lab (IDL):

For any questions about sample submission or sample results, and to let us know a sample is being sent, contact:

If you have an insect or related organism that you want to send to Cornell’s Insect Diagnostic Lab for identification, or a photo you want identified:
  • First, please download this Sample Submission Form by clicking on this link:
    IDL Fillable Submission Form
  • The same form is used for mailed samples, emailed photos, or both. The form can be printed and filled in by hand, or you can type in the information onto the form using Adobe Reader (or Preview for Mac) and then save the PDF file to email to us or to print out.
    If you do not have a printer or have a problem with the download, simply include a sheet of paper when you send in the sample, with:
    your name, mailing address with zipcode, (and if different,  where the sample was collected, with zipcode),
    an email address (if available, or a friend or relative’s email and they can contact you with the ID results), phone number, the date the sample was collected, and where it was found (indoors, outside, or on what kind of plant) with any other details (such as — eating holes in houseplant leaves; many found on kitchen floor for past month; etc.)
  • Send a check or money order for $25.00 payable to “Cornell University”, along with the sample and the Submission Form, to the Shipping address given below. MAKE SURE TO PUT ENOUGH POSTAGE ON — A 1 ounce ENVELOPE WITH ANYTHING 1/4 INCH THICK OR LUMPY COSTS $2.67 (not 49 cents) !!
  • Only if you are a Cornell Cooperative Extension Agent submitting a sample, use this alternate form: CCE Fillable Form
    If you are not a CCE Agent, please use the regular form:IDL Fillable Form

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHS — clear close-up photos of an insect or related organism you would like identified can be sent by email to
NOTE: There is a $25 Diagnostic fee for photo IDs: please mail in the payment separately to the Shipping address.
If you mail in a specimen and you also have a good photo, the single fee covers both, and by emailing it in advance we may be able to give you preliminary information before the specimen arrives at the Lab.



Include payment in the package: a check or money order for $25.00, written out to “Cornell University.”
If emailing a photo but not sending in a sample, please mail $25 payment directly to the address below.


ITHACA  NY  14853-2601

Include payment, the IDL Submission Form (or a piece of paper with your contact information and where sample was found), and the specimens (in a crush-proof container). Put these with sufficient padding to prevent damage, in a larger crush-proof box or envelope with padding.
NOTE ! The Post Office treats envelopes that have anything thicker than a letter as Parcels rather than regular Envelopes, so any padding, or container, inside may require extra postage. Make sure to check with them first — otherwise the package may not get delivered if they consider that there is postage due. IF IT IS 1/4 INCH THICK, OR UNEVENLY THICK/THIN, the minimum postage for a 1-ounce envelope is $2.67 — not 49 cents !

DO NOT send by any method that requires a signature — that can add a delay of 1 or more days, since if no one is in the building mailroom at the time of delivery the package gets returned to the Post Office or sometimes even back to the sender.

If you notify by email when you send a sample, then we will know to expect your sample and we’ll have your correct email address for replying to you with the results.  If you have a tracking number, please email that to us so we can check to see if it has arrived at our building.

Sample identifications are usually completed within 1 to 2 days of receipt at the lab, but often within an hour of receipt. If an email address is provided with the sample, we will contact you with the ID information right away by email; otherwise, we can print out the information and send it to you by USPS mail.  NOTE: the USPS lists packages as “Delivered” when loaded onto the truck at the Ithaca post office, but we might not receive them at the lab on campus until the next day. There are no weekend deliveries to Cornell buildings, by any of the shipping companies.

Make sure your spam filter is set to receive emails from (the diagnostician or assistant will email from their individual account names,  If you do not get a message within a few days of when you expect we would have received the sample, please check your spam/junk mailbox, and contact us at
 since we may already have sent the ID but not been aware it had not gotten to you.

For people in the Ithaca NY area: samples can be dropped off in person at Cornell, on the 2nd floor of Comstock Hall, Room 2144 (CU Insect Collection). Payment can be left with the sample, or cash payments can be made at the Accountant in Room 2124 Comstock.  Directions for dropping off a sample, and IDL Submission forms, are available on the bulletin board outside the door of 2144 Comstock Hall.

How to prepare specimens for shipment

  • Put specimen(s) inside a small crush-proof container, then into a sturdy box or strong envelope with padding or packing material.  Do not use regular flat letter envelopes, as the sample will be damaged going through the postage machines.
  • Collect and send 1 or more whole individuals.  Crushed specimens can sometimes be identified, but often only to insect family, not the species.  If the insects are abundant, send 5 to 10 of the same kind of insect, if possible.  If more than one life stage is found (adults and larvae), send both.
  • If insects are alive, please put in a container and place in the freezer overnight to kill them before shipping.
  • TINY SPECIMENS: if possible, collect in a small container rather than on sticky tape or a sticky trap.  If tape or sticky trap was used, then please attach it to another surface, sticky side down: attach loosely to a white index card or piece of white paper, or a piece of waxed paper.  Please do NOT fold sticky traps or tape with the sticky sides together.  A small piece of damp paper towel can be used to pick up tiny specimens, and then place the towel inside a sealed bag or tightly-closing small container — this is better than using tape.
  • Dead, HARD-BODIED INSECTS such as beetles, wasps, flies, moths, and butterflies should be placed in layers of tissue paper and packaged in a small crush-proof container.
  • SOFT BODIED INSECTS AND OTHERS (Aphids, spiders, mites, grubs, and caterpillars) will break down quickly, so these should be prepared and mailed as quickly as possible, after killing them by freezing overnight with a bit of tissue or paper towel in the container to absorb moisture when they thaw.
  • LARGE SOFT BODIED INSECTS such as grubs or caterpillars require preparation to prevent discoloration: drop into gently boiling water for about 30 seconds, then wrap in tissue paper and put into a small crush-proof container. Please indicate original color of specimen on the Information Sheet.
  • It is best not to ship liquids, but if the specimen is already in liquid, please drain off as much as possible, put in a tightly-capped container, wrap the container in enough paper towels or other material to absorb all the liquid in case of breakage, then put that inside a sealed plastic bag, and use plenty of packing material and put in a crush-proof box. Please include a note saying what the liquid was.
  • PLANT PESTS: Collect a progression of symptoms and pests, if available. Include or identify the plant material on which the insects were found — this is useful and sometimes necessary for pest identification. For plant material — collect a fresh sample, wrap it in several paper towels, and then in a plastic bag with a few holes. For small plants, you may want to ship the entire plant (this will NOT be returned): put a plastic bag over the pot and wrap the open end tightly around the base of the stem, so soil will not scatter inside the package.

How to fill out the IDL SUBMISSION FORM:

Provide complete collection data on the form, or a piece of paper: when collected, where, and by whom, with additional location information if the sample was from someplace other than the address given for the contact person.  Please include an email address if possible, for receiving the diagnosis.

HOUSEHOLD or STRUCTURAL PESTS: Describe the problem: where found, in what room, approximately how many, extent and type of damage or concern, and history of past infestation.

PLANT PESTS: Note the kind of plant, what parts were infested or showed symptoms (leaves, flowers, stems, roots), how many plants are affected, and whether grown as a houseplant, garden plant, nursery, field crop, or other.

We do not test ticks for disease at the Insect Diagnostic Lab.
If you want a tick tested, the Animal Health Diagnostic Center (AHDC) at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, in Ithaca, does that in their Parasitology and Molecular Diagnostics Labs, including determining the species of tick, and if it is a deer tick (black-legged tick) then it is tested for Lyme disease bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) and another disease organism, Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Ticks submitted to the AHDC Parasitology Lab can be from a human or an animal.
Ticks can be dropped off in person at AHDC (at the Vet College in Ithaca), or mailed to them, or if from an animal can instead be submitted by your veterinarian.
For directions on how to send in ticks for identification and disease testing, submission forms, and payment forms, go to
Their contact information for detailed instructions and information on current fees is:
Animal Health Diagnostic Center    Sample Receiving/Dropoff: (607) 253-3900    Email:

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