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NC State Extension

Submitting Entomological Samples of Suspected Home Parasites

If you suspect you have an infestation of a biting or otherwise parasitic, free-living arthropod (i.e. insects, mites, etc. that do not exist internally in humans or other animals) please follow these guidelines for collecting specimens.

What will be accepted and general tips for best results

  • Arthropods must be isolated from other material and placed in a container for examination.
  • Most organisms are best collected or killed in a small, well-sealed vial of alcohol (preferably ≥70%rubbing/isopropyl alcohol or ethanol); collecting can be done with tweezers or a small paint brush.
  • Dead, dried specimens can be submitted in a small plastic zipper bag with the air removed. If possible, do not crush or dismember the specimens. Sending as many specimens (within reason) is optimal for getting a good diagnosis.
  • If specimens are collected on tape they can be submitted, but this is not the preferred method of submission (see above and below).
  • We will accept up to five (5) items (or any combination equaling five items) as follows:
    1. quart or smaller plastic zipper bag with only specimens in it (air removed).
    2. standard sticky trap, covered to prevent sticking to packaging (using cling wrap, etc.)
    3. vial of alcohol or other small container (equal to or less than 3 oz. each; dry container is OK)
    4. piece of paper with 5 pieces of tape, each a maximum of 1×1 inch
  • If a photograph of the organism can be taken with clarity and magnification (e.g. microscope camera) from several views/angles, images alone may be sufficient for identification of the organism. Image samples can be submitted free of charge to the PDIC (preferably through the database), although if a follow-up physical sample is required, the sample will incur a standard fee.

What will NOT be accepted

  • We do not accept, nor identify, internal parasites of humans or animals (e.g. flukes, roundworms, etc.).
  • Specimens in or accompanied by human or animal tissues, medical waste, blood, feces, urine, or bodily secretions will not be accepted. If unsure about the sample please contact the PDIC entomologist first. Contact information is below.
  • We will not look through vacuum bags or their contents, clothing and other textiles, and health or other household products. We do not inspect items treated with pesticides or other such chemicals.
  • We reserve the right to refuse any item(s) we deem unsafe or too difficult to handle.
  • Live animals from out of state are not accepted under any circumstances.

To send specimens, please see our shipping instructions.

For questions, please contact the entomologist at 919-515-9530 or email