Plant Clinic

How to send samples for identification

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 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

Read more Plant Clinic stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category