Guidelines for Submitting to the ISU Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic

The growing season is in full swing, and as Iowa growers and gardeners move along toward the heart of summer, it is important to remember that the COVID-19 precautions continue to alter operations at the Iowa State University Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic (PIDC).

The PIDC continues to provide diagnosis of plant problems and insect identifications through emailed digital submissions.  We are also accepting limited physical samples with restrictions.

Plant problem physical samples: We are accepting some physical plant samples, but due to staffing limitations we are prioritizing samples for commercial growers and service providers.  Samples that are left at room temperature or higher deteriorate quickly, so we must be contacted before sending in any plant sample so we can ensure we get any plant material into our cooler as soon as possible,

Insect ID physical samples:  Insects that are either dead and dry (ants, house-infesting moths, beetles, etc.) or preserved in hand sanitizer are much easier for us to handle and we are accepting samples from all clients. There is no need to contact us ahead of time as insects do not break down in the heat. For more info on submitting insect samples please see: https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/pidc/insect

Our building remains locked, so we can only accept in-person sample drop offs if you arrange ahead of time to have someone meet you.  We maintain social distancing during drop-offs. 

Photo (digital) submissions: If you would like to submit a digital submission to the PIDC or have questions about submitting, send it to pidc@iastate.edu along with photos or video of the plant problem, while keeping to the following guidelines to help with the proper diagnosis.

It is important to include all relevant information along with photos or video of the problem. Put the nature of the problem in the email subject line and include:

  • Contact information: name, email and/or phone and county.
  • Name of plant: along with variety (if known). This is especially important for vegetables, fruit and some ornamentals.
  • Management descriptions: Practices for watering, fertilizing, chemical application as well as environmental conditions.

Please include clear photos, attached to the email—not in email body—and include the general landscape, spacing to other plants and structures like buildings, as well as close-ups of the problem. View more digital photography guidelines in detail here.

Trouble getting that photo or video from your phone to an email? Below are links to steps for Apple and Android phones:

Photos should be in a .jpg or .tiff format. If you need to share a photo from a cloud service, please verify the proper permissions are in place.

The PIDC is a joint effort between Iowa State University Extension and the Plant Pathology, Entomology, Horticulture and Agronomy departments at Iowa State. Our mission is to promote plant health and the economic success of plant-related enterprises through diagnostic information and ecologically sound plant disease and insect management information.

We appreciate your inquiries and we will continue to provide quality diagnosis to the best of our abilities.   

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Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on June 19, 2020. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.