USDA...possible answers for many


Old Timer
Jul 7, 2005
Today I talked with a professor who was very familiar with the permits at the insect zoo of Iowa State University and some of the questions I had on USDA policies were answered.

1.) They told me permits were required for scorpions, mantids, roaches, assassins and phasmids. My source flat out told me that the USDA did not care about tarantulas or centipedes.

2.) I know from other sources that scorpions are blanket banned under the laws of Ames, Iowa, where ISU is located so these are most likely not part of any USDA profiles. My source did not indicate the USDA was interested in scorpions.

3.) The USDA has deregulated hissing cockroaches because of how extensively they're sold in the US. I'm assuming this refers to G. portentosa only.

So as far as I'm concerned, the majority of people on here are cool with the USDA. Tarantulas, scorpions and centipedes as long as imported legally should be OK.

The African Giant Millipedes shouldn't be confiscated anytime soon from private collectors because of how extensively they were sold.

I would assume that mantids and assassins (both imported and captive bred) are still banned.

I'd assume roaches are still in the gray area, since the USDA requires the ISU bug zoo to have permits for them. I'll leave it to any of the roach dealers here on the boards to answer this part. They are far more familiar than I am. I'd assume that most, if not all of the popular feeder roaches (Blaberus, Blaptica, Nauphoeta, etc.) are OK because of how widely they're sold.

The source also gave me some information and ways to get proper contact info (direct office phone numbers, not e-mail) for Wayne Wheling and the Iowa State Entomologist (not quite sure what the state entomologist does, but I'm fairly certian she'll be able to answer some questions for me. I'm planning on giving her a call later this week).

I also asked the professor about the USDA possibly narrowing their definition of a pest. They simply laughed and told me that wasn't likely anytime soon.

I guess they're as critical of this department of the government as I am.

I did not inquire about true spiders or whipscorpions. :wall:

These are just preliminary answers. These answers were given to me off the record because the person was not employed with the USDA, only familiar with the permits and the inspections.

I'm not sure how much this helps, but I hope this answers questions many people on here have had.


Old Timer
Nov 27, 2005
Thanks for all your hard work trying to get answers for us Cheshire! I really appreciate it and I'm sure everyone else here does too.
I just found out some more info to make things more confusing. Apparently in California it is illegal to ship most native insects within the state. It's regulated by the CA dept. of agriculture not the USDA. So not only do we have to make sure we follow USDA regulations but state ones too. Luckily I found a list of insects not regulated for shipments into CA or within the state. I can send it to anyone who's interested or post the link if I can find it again (took some digging on the website).
There are many non native roach species listed so I think you're right about the USDA (and most states) not being concerned with popular pet and feeder species.
I had no idea about the scorps though. I thought those were ok everywhere. That's interesting.