Insect and spider identification 

Some references you may want to try

Spider references can be found on our website in the 'Spiders of New Zealand' section on the 'Other online spider resources' page.

Websites - insects & allies

Bug identification
Identification guide to genera of New Zealand ground beetles

Illustrated guide to N.Z. soil invertebrates

Insect Factsheets

Complete bug list with pictures

Bibliography of N.Z. invertebrates

The Entomological Society of New Zealand

Key to the ants of New Zealand

New Zealand Carabidae

New Zealand Cicadas

Identification of Hymenoptera families
New Zealand velvet worms
Lice (Phthiraptera) collection in Te Papa
Larger moths of New Zealand image gallery
New Zealand Weevil images
The New Zealand Hemiptera website

Books - insects & allies

Common insects in New Zealand. Miller, D. and Walker, A.K. 1984. Wellington: Reed Publishers. 179 pp.

New Zealand insects and their story. Sharell, R. 1982. Revised edition. Collins Publishers. 268 pp.

New Zealand pest and beneficial insects. Scott, R.R. (ed.) 1984. Lincoln University College of Agriculture. 371 pp.

Which New Zealand Insect? Crowe, A. 2002. Auckland: Penguin Books. 127 pp.

Guide to the aquatic insects of New Zealand. Winterbourn, M.J.; Gregson, K.L.D. & Dolphin, C.H. 2006. Bulletin of the Entomological Society of New Zealand 14. 1-108.

The stick insects of New Zealand. Salmon, J.T. 1991. Birkenhead, Auckland: Reed Publishers. 124 pp.

New Zealand butterflies. Identification and natural history. Gibbs, G.W. 1980. Auckland: Collins Publishers: 207 pp.

New Zealand weta. Reed Species Guides. Gibbs, G.W.  1998. Birkenhead, Auckland: Reed Books. 72 pp.

The dragonflies of New Zealand. Rowe, R.J. 1987. Auckland: Auckland University Press. 260 pp.

Ants of New Zealand. Warwick, D. 2007. Dunedin. Otago University Press. 239 pp.

Apoidea (Insecta: Hymenoptera). Donovan, B.J. 2007. Fauna of New Zealand 57. 1-295.

Back to top

Ask us for an identification

If you find spiders or insects you can't identify by using our spiders web-page, or the other resources above, you are most welcome to contact us. We might be able to identify the specimen immediately from your description or we might need to examine it further at Te Papa.

Information to send with your request or specimen

Please include all the information about the specimen you think is relevant, as well as all the main collecting details:

  • the place where the specimen was found
  • the date when it was found
  • the name of the collector
  • your name (if you are not the collector) and contact details.

Sending live specimens

You can send live specimens to us provided they are well packed and sent by a fast delivery service. In the case of spiders and other predators, do not place more than one live specimen in the same container. Otherwise one will usually kill and eat the other.

Sending dead specimens

If you do not want to send a live specimen, there are two relatively painless methods of killing an arthropod: 

  • placing it in a freezer for at least twenty-four hours
    Freezing is recommended for winged insects. Freezing slows down the metabolism until it eventually stops and the specimen freezes.
  • putting it in boiling water for a few minutes
    Boiling water is better for soft-bodied insects as well as centipedes, millipedes, spiders, harvestmen, and other arachnids. It kills the specimen almost immediately.

Once the specimen is dead, put it into a container of 70% alcohol, either methylated spirits or ethanol, so that it doesn’t decompose. Use a strong container with a tight seal that does not leak.

Alternatively, if the specimen is a hard-bodied insect such as a beetle, you can send it in a strong, well-padded container rather than in liquid. The padding will protect the specimen against damage while in transit.


Entomology Team
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
169 Tory Street / PO Box 467
Wellington 6140 

Back to top