Zoological Museum Amsterdam
Plantage Middenlaan 64, 1018 DH Amsterdam
The Netherlands
tel.: +31 20 - 525 6529
fax: + 31 20 - 525 6528
email: hakbijl@science.uva.nl















Identification and Advisory Services in Entomology



IASE is the bureau of the Section Entomology of the Zoological Museum Amsterdam where companies and other organisations can ask their questions.

The basis of our work is the identification of insects and other arthropods, which is the essential step in insect related problems, as without identification one has no access to the available biological information and hardly any adequate answers can be given on practical questions. Therefore, our motto is:




Unfortunately, identifying insects is harder than it looks, as insects are an incredibly diverse group. A misidentification is easily made, which can lead to inadequate decisions and measures. Identification is work for experts.

Insect related questions often concern damage, but insects can also provide secondary information about other questions, such as in insurance claims, forensic investigations and archaeology.



When insects are found where they are not wanted, several questions may be asked, such as:

  • from where do the insects originate?
  • what are they doing here?
  • are they harmful?
  • can they multiply here?
  • are control measures necessary?
  • and if so, are there alternatives for the use of insecticides?
  • what is the cause of the problem and when has it started?
  • which party is liable?
  • does the case comply with the terms of the insurance policy?
  • how can the problem be prevented in the future?


  • Thermobia domestica (=Thermophila furnorum), litho from Oudemans (1889).


It is very important that an identification is correct, as species which have no clear discriminative external characteristics may have very different biological characteristics, including different food and very different tolerances for environmental conditions.

A misidentification can not only lead to costly, but unnecessary control measures, but also to ineffective measures with all subsequent damage.

Some case-studies, click for more information.

Ultimately, an accurate identification may provide the information to arrive to conclusions ranging from "no measures needed" to "destruction of a consignment".



  • We have experience in identification
  • We have the essential means for identifying insects:
  • We have experience in converting biological data into practical information
  • We are independent
    • We do not gain in one or other outcome
    • You remain free in making your own decisions



IASE is specialised in stored products insects, mostly from imported commodities, and other insects that can be found indoors. We have a tradition in producing expertise reports for insurers. Therefore, we have a detailed picture of what can be found on imported products. We can also help solving your technical problems from a biological point of view, and we can provide training in insect identification. We do not carry out actual control measures. Other specialisations are insect remains and fragments and entomoarchaeology.

You can send your well-protected insect samples with accompanying letter to the address below. If you have any questions, please contact us.


Zoological Museum Amsterdam

Plantage Middenlaan 64

1018 DH Amsterdam

The Netherlands

tel.: +31 20 - 525 6529

fax: +31 20 - 525 6528

email: hakbijl@science.uva.nl





Insect remains and fragments

One of our specialisations is the identification of insect parts and fragments. Particularly beetle parts are identifiable, for instance, after passage through the intestinal tract, or even after the insects are milled together with the product in which they lived. Fragments can be identified by comparison with complete specimens from the collection, which takes experience and patience.

This technique can be applied in:

  • archaeology
  • food technology and quality control
  • diet research (gut contents, or excrements)
  • forensic entomology



From soil samples on Novaya Zemlya fragmented parts of Spanish Fly could be isolated, which the Dutch explorers had used as a medicine during their stay in the winter of 1596/7.

Fragment of an elytron of a grain weevil (Sitophilus granarius) from the latrine of a Roman centurion, 1st century AD. Drawing Dick Langerak, ZMA.





Services in Entomoarchaeology


Under certain conditions the remains of insects and some other arthropods remain identifiable for long periods and are a rich source of information. One group of species has been harmful, or annoying, others have been utilised. Also the species that did not play any part in the life of people can provide much information about all kinds of conditions, including information that can not be obtained otherwise.


Multitude of questions can be answered on the basis of insect remains. Some examples:

  • What kind of material must this unrecognisable or even completely disappeared material have been?
  • What was the state of it before it got preserved? (fresh, mouldy, foul, infested)
  • Which materials were processed on this site?
  • Are there indications for food storage facilities (even at a distance)?
  • Are there traces of insect control?
  • Are there imports?
  • How were the circumstances of an interment (perimortem conditions like "exposure")?
  • Were insects used as food, or eaten together with other food?
  • Were insects used as medicines?
  • Were parasites, or vectors of diseases present?
  • Can we get additional palaeo-ecological information?

Also technical archaeological questions can be answered, particularly formation and taphonomic processes:

  • How was this feature formed? (dumped, washed in, filled in slowly and naturally?)
  • Taphonomy of human and animal remains.



This labour-intensive work has to be applied with care for maximum efficiency. The most productive way is deciding about level of detail and choosing between samples in several rounds and in interaction with other specialists and the client.

Samples can be analysed with a specific purpose and to a specific level:

  • Is the degree of preservation sufficient?
  • Which ecological groups are represented? (scanning)
  • Is a specific species or group represented?
  • Identifications focussed on a particular question
  • (More or less) complete analysis

Conditions for the preservation of insect remains are comparable to those for other organic remains, such as plant remains. In the Netherlands it concerns mostly waterlogged material. But insect remains can also be mineralised, or be preserved in very dry or very cold conditions. Insects, and even soft larvae, can be charred and this material is often identifiable, if handled with care.

Archaeological and palaeo-ecological samples preferably weigh at least 2 kilograms, are well sealed and are not sieved. Occasionally, smaller samples, or even separate finds can also be informative. It is possible to use the same sample for insect and for botanical analysis.

It is no coincidence that IASE is part of the Zoological Museum Amsterdam. As the identification is based on fragments, as there are no identification keys for insect remains and as the number of species is very large, the work can only be done with the use of a reference collection. This collection not only has to contain the common and rare species of the region of the site, but also of a much larger area. It happens regularly that species are found that no longer exist in the Netherlands, or are threatened with extinction.

For our own research in the field of Entomoarchaeology, click here

If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

IASE, T. Hakbijl
Zoological Museum Amsterdam
Plantage Middenlaan 64
1018 DH Amsterdam
The Netherlands
tel.: +31 20 - 525 6529
fax:+31 20 - 525 6528
email: hakbijl@science.uva.nl