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.
Samples related to health problems (suspected biting insects)
NOTE: This type of sample must be submitted in a small leakproof vial/bottle in 70% alcohol (isopropyl). The sample must contain only the insect, nothing else. We do not accept articles of clothing or sticky traps for insect identification. We cannot diagnose signs or symptoms on people or animals from photos.
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.
The Purdue Nematology Lab has closed and is no longer accepting samples. Please contact the PPDL, email@example.com or 765-494-7071, for a list of other nematode labs in the region.
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.