Alien invertebrate collection kits

Round tubs, labels and bottles.
Alien invertebrate collection kit (Photo: J. Fitzpatrick)

We have developed an alien invertebrate collection kit for the opportunistic collection of alien invertebrates.

It is important that such creatures be caught, preserved and sent home for identification so that we can understand where they are coming from, how they are getting to Antarctica, and how we can take preventative action.

When any unusual invertebrate suspected to be a non-native species is found, it is caught and placed into a pre-labelled sample jar with a barcode.

A 70% ethanol solution is used to cover soft bodied creatures (eg spiders, snails and slugs).

Butterflies, moths, grass hoppers and other winged creatures are humanely killed in the freezer (usually 5-6 hours). Once dead, the insect is then returned to room temperature before being placed into the sample jar with a small amount of silica gel (dessicant) and some cotton wool to minimise damage. It is stored in a cool dry place.

A duplicate specimen label is completed for each sample: one is adhesive and is placed on the jar, the other on waterproof paper is filled out with the pencil supplied and placed inside the jar with the creature.

An incident report with the barcode of the jar is submitted to allow tracking and follow-up. The barcode information is added to the Alien Invertebrate database. The spare duplicate barcode is stuck inside the notebook together with a copy of the specimen label. The notebook always remains with the kit.

The specimens are then given to the station leader or voyage leader for return to Australia.