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How to identify insect larvae nests

Updated February 21, 2017

There are hundreds of thousands of types of insects in just about any area of the world. Sometimes, an interesting or unknown larvae may be found that is not easily identifiable. The process of identifying insects involves collecting information on an insect or an insect nest to identify them. Carry an insect identification field guide to determine the type of larvae and nest you have found.

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  1. Locate the insect larvae nest and take a sample or photograph of the larva. Place an object, such as a ruler, next to the larva and record its size. If possible, place the sample into a small container using tongs to make the identification process easier.

  2. Make observations; write down specific information such as where the nest was found, the habitat and even the shape of the nest. Pay attention to details such as the colour of the nest, and if any other adult insects are in the area. Also, take explicit notes on all the physical details you see and if any antennae are present.

  3. Remove the larvae from the container and use a magnifying glass to carefully examine the colour and texture of the larvae. Consult an insect identification field guide to identify the nest. For example, if you have a small insect that is in a cocoon-like structure, go to the caterpillar/butterfly section of the guide.

  4. Search for photographs of the nest once you believe you have found a match. Consulting Internet encyclopedias or a university website from the agriculture or biology programmes can be useful. Photographs will give you an idea of what the nest and larvae look like in their natural habitat.

  5. Tip

    Sometimes an exact species match is difficult to find even when using an identification guide. You may need to consult a professional.

    Make sure the websites you visit are credible sources.

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Things You'll Need

  • Small container
  • Tongs
  • Ruler
  • Camera
  • Notebook
  • Field guide to insects

About the Author

Corey Morris has been writing since 2009. He has been a reporter for his campus newspaper, "The Rotunda" and is the publication's news editor. His work focuses on topics in news, politics and community events. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in political science and mass media from Longwood University in Farmville, Va.

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