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03 - Insect Identification Service

If you want to know whether those are termite swarmers or ants you just found in the house, or want to know what species of termite you have, you can send your sample to the MSU Extension Insect Identification Lab. Just place several of the insects in a small leak-proof bottle of ethyl alcohol and package for mailing. Be sure to include your contact information and information about the sample.

Insect samples should be preserved in ethyl alcohol in a leak-proof bottle.
Wrap samples in paper towels or other absorbent padding and place in a crush-proof container for mailing.

Mail to:          

Extension Insect ID Lab
Box 9775
Mississippi State, MS   39762-9775


The Extension Insect ID Lab also provides identification and control recommendations for other types of insect pests.

There is no charge for insect identifications.

Find more information about insect identification on the MSU Extension Insect Identification section.

Note: We cannot identify termite workers to species by physical examination. If you want to know what species of termite you have, do not send samples that contain only workers. Be sure to collect some soldiers and/or swarmers. Soldiers or swarmers that are preserved in good condition can readily be identified to species. See the section on termite biology to learn how to distinguish workers, soldiers, and swarmers. Be sure to preserve samples in alcohol. Ethyl alcohol is best, but isopropyl alcohol will also work.

Dr. Blake Layton, Extension Entomology Specialist
Department of Entomology, Mississippi State University             
Phone: 662-325-2960

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Publication Number: P2568


Termites swarming on this decaying tree stump are a healthy part of nature, but homeowners must take steps to make sure they do not infest houses. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Linda Breazeale)
Filed Under: Household Insects, Termites, Insects-Pests June 7, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The Mississippi State University Extension Service judged that the most economically important insects in the state should have their own website.

The site,, is the go-to place for information on termite biology, identification and control. The site describes the different species of termites found in the state and provides answers to common questions about the pests.


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Entomology; extension insect identification; fire ants; termites; insect pests in the home, lawn and