Instructions for sample collection

Our tree-building projects have greatly benefited from samples collected by fellow symphytologists from around the world – in fact, samples of many species simply would have been impossible to get otherwise.

Nevertheless, we still have a long “wish-list” of species, so below are some general instructions for sample storage. Note that we would be happy to send collection equipment (filled sample tubes, labels, and paper bags) to anyone willing to provide samples - just send an e-mail to Tommi.Nyman [at] We can also send specimens from our collection in return.

We usually use 2-ml plastic screw-cap tubes (Sarstedt # 72.694) for our samples, but other tubes are also suitable, as long as they don’t leak.

Sample labels should minimally include the following: collection site, collection date, host plant (in case of larvae), and name of collector. Labels written with a pencil are best, but labels made with a laser printer also seem to withstand alcohol. By contrast, writing labels with ballpoint or marker pens is risky because the text may be dissolved by alcohol.

Adult sawflies or larvae can be stored in alcohol; anything between 70 and 100% is fine. Non-denatured alcohol is preferred, but using denatured alcohol is not a problem either.

Galler larvae should be collected so that it is possible to check the gall type and the host-plant species afterwards. Therefore, we first remove the larva from the gall and put it in alcohol. Then, the gall along with a portion of the host twig (ca. 20 cm) with a few leaves is put in a small paper bag or envelope and dried at room temperature. The paper bag and the sample tube have the same reference number, so that the larva can always be connected to the specific plant individual from which it was collected. Pressing the plant voucher is not necessary, and conspecific larvae collected from a single plant individual can have the same host voucher.


Tommi Nyman


Faculty of Biosciences

University of Joensuu

P.O. Box 111

FI-80101 Joensuu



Phone: +358 40 520 6540 (mobile) / +358 13 251 3582 (office)

E-mail: Tommi.Nyman [at]