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How to submit a sample

Plant Material

Insects and Spiders

Instructions for Collecting and Mailing Diseased Plant Specimens

For best service to your growers, for the most useful returns on your efforts, and for the efficient use of your time, please read and observe these instructions before submitting specimens:


1. Select material showing the symptoms you are concerned about. Send several samples showing various stages of disease, especially early symptoms. If possible also send a healthy plant.

2. Get all parts of plants, including roots where practical. Enclose roots and soil in a plastic bag. Use another bag to enclose the rest of the plant.

3. If it is not practical to send the entire plant, include several affected portions of the plant. With stem or branch disorders, also include a section of live material attached to the diseased portion.

4. If a vascular wilt such as Verticillium wilt or Dutch elm disease is suspected, send several branch sections 1 inch in diameter and about 6 inches long from branches with dying, wilted, or yellowed leaves. Do not send dead wood. Put samples in a plastic bag to prevent drying.

5. Turfgrass samples should be taken from the edges of affected areas that include dying and also apparently healthy plants. Send one or two 3-by-3-inch squares of sod containing 1 inch of attached soil. Wrap each sample in one thickness of slightly dampened toweling, then in dry newspaper. Send as much information as possible.

6. Fleshy specimens such as mushrooms, fruit, or potatoes should be as firm as possible and show early and intermediate symptom development. Wrap specimens separately in dry towels or newspaper. Do not put in plastic. Pack with sufficient padding to avoid crushing.


1. Keep plants cool and moist before shipping. Mail as soon as possible after collecting. Mail specimens early in the week to avoid delay in the post office over weekends or holidays.

2. Pack in a sturdy container to prevent crushing in transit. Use paper to pack the specimen firmly in the container.

3. Identify the package with labels both outside and inside. Put the label and Plant Disease Form in a waterproof barrier such as plastic.

Mail To: OSU Plant Clinic
1089 Cordley Hall
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR 97331-2903

Instructions for Collecting and Mailing Insect and Spider Specimens

Preserving specimens properly greatly increases the chance of getting a identification.  Immature and soft bodied specimens decay and crush easily so please use the following suggestions when submitting specimens:


1. Try to not crush the specimen being submitted and if possible send multiple specimens.

2. If you are submitting a caterpillar, maggot or other immature insect preserve a specimen in ethyl or isopropyl alcohol and, if possible, include live specimen(s) in a container with a piece of dry paper towel.   When sending a live specimen please label the exterior with the word "LIVE".

3.  Spiders can be sent dead submerged in alcohol.  Please indicate if you are only interested in knowing if the specimen is a potentially dangerous species (i.e. Hobo spider, black widow, or brown recluse) or not.


If sending dead specimens, place in container with a piece of paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol or submerged in rubbing alcohol (ethyl alcohol is preferred).  There are postal restrictions regarding sending alcohol in the mail:

  • The sample containers should be leak-proof plastic, glass or metal containers.
  • The lid of each sample container should be sealed onto the container  so it doesn’t accidentally come open.
  • There should be no more than 30 mL of alcohol in each sample container.
  • Sample containers should be placed into a secondary container (a ziplock-type bag would suffice) with absorbent, cushioning material such as paper towels.
  • The secondary container should be put into a strong outer package (padded envelop or box) for mailing.
  • On the address side of the mailing container, write “This package conforms to 49 CFR 173.4”.
  • A complete return address and delivery address must be used.

If submitting several different insects/spiders please place them in separate containers each with a separate label written in pencil.

2. Pack specimens in sturdy containers to prevent crushing in transit. Use soft paper to pack live specimens in the container.

3. Identify the package with labels both outside and inside. Put the Insect ID Form in a plastic bag to prevent accidental moisture damage.


Mail To: OSU Plant Clinic
1089 Cordley Hall
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR 97331-2903