What Are Safe Ways to Get Samples of Household Pests for Identification Purposes?

The safest way to collect live pests is with a baited trap. To attract insects, place fruit or raw hamburger in a bowl inside a plastic container. While the pests are eating, cover the container, then transfer them to small collection vials for transport. If a dead specimen is suitable, prepare a pan trap by placing 2 inches of water and a few drops of dish detergent in a pan, then load the insects into separate collection vials for identification and transport.

Baited traps can be set up in any type of plastic container with a lid. The container should be shallow enough to sit close to the ground. Alternatively, dig a small hole for the container to rest in. Simply place the bait at the bottom of the trap, or wrap it in a small mesh bag and suspend it from a skewer laid across the trap's opening. If using fruit to bait the trap, make sure it is overripe.

Cover the baited trap to keep animals from stealing the bait. The cover should have holes small enough that only insects can pass through. Chicken wire works well for this purpose.

When using a pan trap, pay attention to the container's color, since insects are attracted to yellow, red, blue and white. Make sure to put an ample amount of dish detergent in the water, as it prevents insects from escaping the trap.