Plant Clinic

How to send samples for identification

 

dade@ifas.ufl.edu

Q. How do I send bugs and plants in the mail for you to identify?

H.M., North Miami Beach

To send insect samples, place as many undamaged insects as possible in a hard plastic container such as a pill bottle. You can put the container in the freezer for one to two days to kill the insects before sending the sample. Mail the container in a box (preferably) or padded envelope. Never submit any samples, whether insects or plants, in plastic baggies.

Include your email address or phone number for a speedy response. Describe where you are finding the insects. Are they indoors or outdoors? On a plant? If so, please include the name or a photo of the plant, and a photo or description of the damage.

Mailing insects any way other than the method described usually doesn’t work. Because of mail machines, samples not sent in hard containers get crushed. Crushed insects usually can’t be identified.

If the insect is large enough to see easily, you can also email images that show the insect clearly. However, most insects need to be examined under a microscope to see details and therefor the insect may still need to be sent.

Before submitting plant samples, call your local UF Extension county office first so that the correct plant part is sent. If you need to send plant samples, wrap the plant or plant part in paper and pack it in a box. Samples wrapped in plastic or in baggies rot in the mail or get crushed, which makes them difficult or impossible to diagnose.

To find the contact information for your local UF Extension office, visit http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/map/ or look in the blue pages of your phone book under “county cooperative extension service.”

Adrian Hunsberger is an entomologist/horticulturist with the UF/IFAS Miami-Dade Extension office. Write to Plant Clinic, 18710 SW 288th St., Homestead, FL 33030; e-mail aghu@ifas.ufl.edu.

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