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Shawnee County

Insect and Plant Samples

In order to properly diagnose plant problems, a quality sample is key. Please view the below guideline for bringing in a proper sample. All plant samples should be brought in the day they are collected. Samples that are brought in later than that may exhibit misleading symptoms. 

Annual Plants 

For annual plants bring in the entire plant, including roots and soil. Carefully dig the effected plants up. If possible, bring in several plants showing a range of symptoms from healthy to dead. Seal the roots in a plastic bag and place the entire sample in a larger plastic bag. DO NOT ADD WATER.

Perennial Plants

Bring in both affected and healthy plant parts. For flowering plants, bring in the flower and stems/leaves. 

Trees and Shrubs

Collect several branches 10-12 inches long (or fruit) showing a range of symptoms from healthy to dead. If the tree or shrub is losing leaves bring in samples with and without leaves. 


Samples should be 6 inches wide by 4 inches deep. If turf issues appear in patches, include a sample along the edge with some healthy and some affected turf in one piece. 


Insects should be brought in a clean, sealed container, even if they are no longer thought to be alive. If you cannot bring the insect in the day it is captured, store in a freezer until you can bring it in. Fleshy insects such as caterpillars should be put in a vial or pill bottle with rubbing alcohol. Insects should not be wrapped in cotton or anything else that may snag legs or antennae. 


If bringing in a sample isn't possible, photos are the next best option. A photograph of the issue close up (ex: the spots on the leaves), a photo of the plant overall and a photo of the growing area (ex: flower bed) are all needed to properly diagnose issues. 


Marc Galbraith

Response Line Coordinator
(785) 232-0062 ext 107

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Have questions?  The Response Line is staffed by trained Extension Master Gardeners who will assist you with your tree, lawn and garden questions.

Phone: 785-232-0062
ext. 105 or 106
Response Line Hours:
Open April through September
Monday through Friday
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.