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How to send us ants

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We are always looking to add reliable new records of ant species to our public database. If you have collected an ant and aren't sure what it is, follow the instructions to send it to us for identification.

1. Your ant must be dry and mounted (pinned). Pinning ants means carefully gluing the underside of the ant’s mesosoma to a triangular point punched out of stiff paper (heavy-duty, acid-free cardstock available from office supply stores works fine). The point is then stuck through with an insect pin (size #1 or larger). Be sure to use water-soluble glue (white glue or hide glue). Jack Longino has provided a detailed discussion of pointing and pinning ants elsewhere on the web (click here).

2. Your pinned specimen must be correctly labeled with collection information: The first (top, nearest the ant) label must includes the locality where the ant was collected (country, state, county, town, latitude, longitude, and elevation), and the date of collection. The second (middle) label must include information about the habitat in which you collected it. We will add the bottom label, which will include the scientific name of the ant (genus and species), the name of the person who determined the identity of the specimen, and the date it was identified.

3. Pack your pinned specimens to minimize movement in transit. Putting the pinned specimens in a small box lined with styrofoam or other rigid foam that can support the pins is a good start. Add another layer at the top so the pin can't move side to side. Put this little box into a slightly bigger box filled with air-paks, shredded newspaper, compostable packing peanuts, or some other recyclable packaging. Include a printed list of the specimens.

4. If you want your specimens sent back to you, please include return postage or your account number for FedEx or UPS.

5. Send the ants to Aaron Ellison, Harvard Forest, 324 North Main Street, Petersham, MA 01366.

Only dry, pinned ants can be accepted for identification

It is not legal to ship alcohol through the mail, and we will not identify specimens sent in alcohol