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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Insect & Mite Identification Service
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1 - Overview
2 - Guidelines for USDA-APHIS-PPQ Submissions
3 - Guidelines for Professional/Academic Submissions
4 - Guidelines for General Submissions
Guidelines for USDA-APHIS-PPQ Submissions

The majority of identification requests received by SEL are submitted by APHIS-PPQ, a regulatory division of the USDA charged with safeguarding US agriculture and natural resources from the risks associated with the entry, establishment, or spread of animal and plant pests and noxious weeds. Due to the high volume and variety of submissions that SEL receives from PPQ personnel, additional guidelines have been developed to facilitate the processing of these identification requests.

SEL receives three different types of identification requests from APHIS-PPQ: Digital Images, Standard Port Interceptions, and Domestic Submissions. Special instructions for each type of request are outlined below.


Digital Images
  • Digital images should be submitted ONLY for URGENT interceptions

  • Each interception should be submitted separately
  • Image dimensions should be roughly 600x800 pixels at a resolution of 72dpi and saved in JPEG format, resulting in files that are 100-200KB in size

  • Files should be named based on the following conventions:

17-Character Interception Number|unique letter.jpg
(Example: APHTX061722580001a.jpg)

  • The Subject line of the e-mail message should include the 17 Charcter Interception Number and tentative family ID when available.
    (Example: APHTX061722580001-Pentatomidae)

  • The body of the e-mail should include the following information:
- Port:
- Interception Number:
- Intercept Date:
- Host:
- Origin:
- Tentative ID:
- Attached Files:
  • AFTER interception information has been enterd into PestID, submit images to:

IDService@ars.usda.gov


Standard Port Interceptions
  • Urgent interceptions are not subject to SEL's specimen preparation requirements and may be submitted in the most expeditious manner available (typically in ethanol).

  • All FedEx packages containing Urgent interceptions should be marked with yellow and black "Urgent tape".

  • Urgents should be forwarded to the appropriate SEL location depending on the taxonomic group of the specimen.

  • Prompt and Routine submissions should conform to SEL's submission requirements. Furthermore, all scales and mites must be slide-mounted prior to submission.

  • Port interceptions do not require form ARS-748; however, they must be accompanied by a copy of the intereception record, form PPQ 309.

Domestic Submissions
  • All domestic submissions must be accompanied by SEL's Identification Request Form, ARS-748 (PDF, MS Word, plain text).

  • While it is acceptable to submit all domestic Urgents and Prompts in ethanol, Routine submissions, such as those resulting from domestic survey projects, need to be prepared in accordance with SEL specimen preparation standards.

  • If you send domestic Urgents or Prompts directly to SEL scientists stationed at the National Museum of Natural History, please e-mail or FAX a copy of the Identification Request Form to CTSU in Beltsville, MD.

Contact Information

Communications & Taxonomic Services Unit
USDA-ARS-Systematic Entomology Laboratory
Building 005, Room 137, BARC-West
10300 Baltimore Avenue
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350

e-mail:  IDService@ars.usda.gov
phone: 301.504.7041
FAX: 301.504.6482

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Last Modified: 11/7/2013
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