Extension News

Send Us Your Bugs, Weeds and Sick Plants

Note to media editors: This is the Garden Column for the week of July 13, 2007.


By Laura Jesse
Iowa State University Extension

Do you have problems with parts of your lawn turning brown, or are there funny little lumps on your tree leaves or perhaps are there little moths flying around your bedside lamp? Don’t know what to do or who to ask for help? The Iowa State University (ISU) Extension’s new Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic staff can answer your questions.


The Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic staff can diagnose plant health problems caused by diseases, insects or the environment. In addition, they also can identify insects, weeds and fungi. Once they have diagnosed your disease or identified your insect, they can give you information about your insect or plant, and if it is a pest problem they can advise you on the best course of action to take.


The Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic is under the supervision of Christine Engelbrecht. Christine has been a diagnostician with the ISU Plant Disease Clinic for the past several years and will continue to diagnose many of the plant disease problems. I am the new addition to the clinic. I was a diagnostician in the ISU Insect Clinic and will identify insects found indoors, outdoors and eating plants.


Christine and I believe that a one-stop shop will make it much easier for homeowners, gardeners, growers and all our clientele to contact us and get the timely help they need.


How to get your plant disease, weed, fungi or insect identified?


There are several ways to get help with whatever plant or insect problem you have. You can call us or you can mail samples directly to us at the number and address below, or take your plant or insect to your local ISU Extension office and they will mail it to us. 


Plant samples should consist of the entire plant, when possible, or at least a representative sample. Wrap the plant material in a dry paper towel or newspaper. Place loosely in a plastic bag and ship in a sturdy box. Insects should be shipped in a container that will prevent crushing in the mail, a pill bottle or vial of some sort. Soft bodied insects, like caterpillars, ship better if preserved in alcohol. Hand sanitizer works well. 


If a sample is too large (a tree), or you can get a good picture of your insect, sometimes photos can identify the problem or your insect. Send photos by mail or a digital image by e-mail to the clinic and if a sample is needed, we can let you know. 


There is no charge for insect, weed and fungal identification. There is a $10 charge for diagnosis of plant problems (plant diseases or insect feeding damage). 


The clinic will host an open house on Wednesday, July 25, from 2 to 4 p.m. We would like to meet you, show off our facility and offer you some light refreshments. 


You can contact the clinic by phone at (515) 294-0581, e-mail sickplant@iastate.edu or send a sample to Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic, 327 Bessey Hall, Ames, IA  50011.




Contacts :

Laura Jesse, Entomology, (515) 294-0589, lrahnsen@iastate,.edu

Jean McGuire, Extension Communications and Marketing, (515) 294-7033, jmcguire@iastate.edu