If you wish to submit both a physical sample and digital images of the problem, the site, or pattern of injury, please be sure to NOTE in the Additional Information area on both the physical form and the digital form that you have submitted both physical and digital images so that you will not be charged twice for the same sample.
How to Collect and Ship Specimens
- Collect fresh specimens. Send a generous amount of material, if available.
- Ship in crush-proof container immediately after collecting. If holdover periods are encountered, keep specimen cool. Mail packages to arrive on weekdays.Do not mail or ship samples on Friday, as we are not here to receive them over the weekend. We encourage you to send samples with priority or express delivery so we receive them in the best condition possible to provide you with the most accurate diagnosis.
- Incomplete information or poorly selected specimens may result in an inaccurate diagnosis or inappropriate control recommendations. Badly damaged specimens are often unidentifiable and additional sample requests can cause delays.
- Please double bag out-of-state samples to prevent escape of pathogens/pests during shipping.
Ship sample to:
Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory
LSPS-Room 116, Purdue University
915 W. State Street
West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2054
Submitting Plant Specimens for Disease/Injury Diagnosis
For general decline/dying of plants, send whole plants, showing early symptoms, with roots and adjacent soil intact. Dig up plant carefully. Send several plants. Bundle plants together and wrap roots in a plastic bag. Wrap the entire bundle of plants in newspaper and place in a crush-proof container for shipment. Do not add water.
Collect branches 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter from branches which are actively wilting but not totally dead. Wrap in plastic to retain moisture. Collect a handful of feeder roots and place in a plastic bag.
When localized infections such as cankers, leaf spots and rots are involved, send specimens representing early and moderate stages of disease. For cankers include healthy portions from above and below diseased area. Press leaves flat between heavy paper or cardboard. Wrap fleshy parts in dry paper.
Samples should be at least 4"x4" and include both the diseased and healthy portions of grass on the same sample piece. Place the sample on a disposable plate and wrap in newspaper for shipment.
Submitting Plant Specimens for Identification
Submitting Insect Specimens
Care should be taken to package insects so that they arrive unbroken. Be sure to separate and label the insects if two or more are included in the same package and provide appropriate information on each.
Tiny and/or Soft-bodied Specimens
Aphids, mites, thrips, caterpillars, grubs, spiders, etc. should be submitted in a small leakproof bottle or vial of 70 percent alcohol. Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol is suitable and readily available. Do not submit insects in water, formaldehyde or without alcohol as they will readily ferment and decompose.
*Grubs and caterpillars must be prepared before preservation to prevent discoloration. Drop them into gently boiling water for about 30 seconds (never microwave them!) before placing in vials of rubbing alcohol.
Flies, grasshoppers, cockroaches, wasps, butterflies and beetles can be submitted dry in a crush-proof container. Do not tape insects to paper or place them loose in envelopes.
Submitting Nematode Specimens
Nematode samples are handled through the Purdue Nematology Lab in the Department of Entomology.
Include the submission form with samples and mail to:
Submitting Greenhouse Samples
Samples in plug trays, as well as unrooted and rooted cuttings, and plants in pots require extra care when they are packaged for submittal to a diagnostic lab. Before you mail the next sample, please take a few minutes to review these suggestions for packaging and submitting samples. This will help preserve the integrity of the sample during shipment and increasing the likelihood of a more accurate diagnosis.
If possible, do not remove the plugs from the plug tray. Submitting either an entire tray or cutting off a section of the tray helps keep the soil off the foliage where most symptoms are observed. Secondary decay often occurs when soil is allowed to come in contact with the foliage, interfering with accurate diagnosis. When possible, submit at least 5-10 cells with plugs. This provides the diagnostician with ample material for microscopic observation, culturing, and virus testing if necessary.
The primary concern is to keep the growing media separate from the foliage. You would be amazed how quickly damp foliage with a dusting of growing mix rots once it is sealed in packing material! Put the cuttings into a plastic bag, sealing the bag with a twist tie at the soil line. Do not seal the foliage in a plastic bag. Then wrap the sample in newspaper to prevent additional drying out of foliage before it is received.
Take into consideration that the mail carrier will not necessarily keep these packages right side up. Wrap plastic wrap, clear packing tape or paper over the pot surface, or put the pot in a bag and seal it with a twist tie around the base of the plant. Fill any extra space in the shipping box with newspaper, styrofoam peanuts, or another space filling packing material to prevent jostling of sample during shipment.