The Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory

Submitting Physical Specimens for Diagnosis

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

  1. Collect fresh specimens. Send a generous amount of material, if available.

  2. Ship in crush-proof container immediately after collecting. If holdover periods are encountered, keep specimen cool. Mail packages to arrive on weekdays.

  3. 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.

  4. Please follow the submission instructions for your particular type of sample: plant samples for disease/injury, plant samples for ID, insect specimens, nematode specimens, greenhouse samples.

  5. Ship sample to:

    Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory
    LSPS-Room 116, Purdue University
    915 W. State Street
    West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2054

    Sample Packaging

    Please double bag out-of-state samples to prevent escape of pathogens/pests during shipping.

Submitting Plant Specimens for Disease/Injury Diagnosis

  1. Herbaceous Plants: 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.

  2. Tree Wilts: 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.

  3. Leaves/Branches/Fleshy Parts: 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.

  4. Turf: 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

  1. Include a 6-10 inch sample of the terminal (tip) portion of the stem with side buds, leaves and flowers in identifiable condition.

  2. Place the sample flat between a layer or two of dry newspaper, paper toweling or similar absorbent material. Try to prevent excessive folding of the leaves and place flowers so that you are looking into the center of the flower.

  3. Pack the wrapped bundle in plastic, preferably with a piece of cardboard to keep the sample flat.

  4. NEVER PLACE ANY FRESH PLANT SAMPLE DIRECTLY IN PLASTIC!

  5. NEVER ADD WATER TO THE SAMPLE.

  6. Shake excess water from aquatic weed samples and place in plastic bag.

  7. Wrap whole, uncut fruit specimens in paper, place in a strong box, and pack with additional paper to prevent crushing.

  8. Package in sturdy crush-proof container and pack with additional paper to prevent shifting.

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.

  1. Tiny and/or Soft-bodied Specimens: such as aphids, mites, thrips, caterpillars, grubs, and spiders 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

  2. Hard-bodied Specimens: such as 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.

Collecting Samples for Nematode Diagnosis

Include the submission form with samples and mail to:

Nematology Laboratory
Department of Entomology
Purdue University
901 W. State Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2089

 

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.

Plugs - keep them in the tray

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.

Cuttings - separate foliage from media with a plastic bag

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.

Potted Material - pack around the plant

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.

If you are delivering the sample to our building...

We welcome delivery of samples in person! There are two short-term metered parking spaces on both sides of our building. Samples may be dropped off from 8am-5pm in room LSPS 116 in the two-story brick building (Life Sciences Plant and Soils) located in-between Lily Hall of Life Sciences and the Life Science Greenhouses. A completed submission form must accompany all samples. Sample submission forms can be downloaded here (pdf file) and filled out ahead of time or are available at the drop off point.

Shipping - watch the weekend

Do not mail or ship samples on Friday, as we are not here to receive them over the weekend. Samples can be sent via US mail, UPS, FedEx, etc. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service