County Extension Office Can Identify Insects, 
Plants and Disease


The “What is that insect (weed or disease)” season is upon us.  If you have an unknown insect or weed in your yard, garden or field, or a plant that is diseased, the Roosevelt County Extension office can help you identify it.  If we do not know what it is, then we will send it in to the Montana State University labs.  Your help is needed to properly package these specimens so they arrive safely and identifiable.

Insects and spiders--- Hard bodied insects can be packaged in any container that will not crush the insect.  Pill bottles, film canisters, even a chew can will serve the purpose.  Just put some padding in with the insect and we can ship it off.  Soft bodied insects tend to decompose a lot faster.  These need to be preserved in rubbing alcohol for shipment.  Any water tight container with rubbing alcohol in it will work to get it to our office.  If there is any doubt on how to bring it in, please preserve it in rubbing alcohol.  It also prevents that fast moving spider from scurrying around our office!

Plant specimens—The more plant parts the better.  Please try to collect the roots and any flowering specimens along with the vegetative parts of the plant.  Clean the soil and debris from the roots.  Fresh plants may be submitted in a plastic bag but do not add any additional moisture, as that causes the plant to be “mush” before they open it up at the MSU lab.  Refrigerate the plant to decrease decomposition and wilting until you bring it in.  If it will be some time before you bring it into the office, press the plant and dry it.  Simply flatten it out on some newspaper and press it between some heavy books.  Newspaper should be above and below the plant and a layer or two of cardboard also helps in the drying process.  To bring it to the office, place it between a couple sheets of cardboard so it will not be crushed during delivery. 

Diseased plant specimens— Diseased plants should also have roots with the sample.  Soil with the plant is preferred for disease samples.  Simply wrap the roots, with soil, in plastic and secure with a rubber band around the base of the plant.  Loosely enclose the foliage in plastic or paper.  Keep the sample as fresh as possible until it is shipped.  Refrigerate if possible.  Photographs are also another possibility.  Make them as detailed, clear and close as possible without blurring the picture.  We can also take pictures or scan the plant specimen in the office and e-mail to the specialist. 

When specimens are brought to the extension office, we gather information about the plant and variety (if known), growing conditions, soil type, crop history, age of plant, chemicals used, patterns or symptoms in the field and previous problems in the field. We also collect information on the location it was growing, or found and the date it was sampled along with any other information that will help in the identifying process. 

If you have an insect or plant that you would like to bring into the office and have questions about taking a sample, call our office at 787-5312.




The programs of the MSU Extension Service are available to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. Issued in furtherance of cooperative extension work in agriculture and home economics, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Douglas Steele, Vice Provost and Director, Extension Service, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717.

Montana State University Extension Service is an ADA/EO/AA/Veteran's Preference Employer and educational outreach provider.