Plant Pest Diagnostics Laboratory



The County Entomologist identifies insects for County AWM programs such as the glassy-winged sharp shooter program and the nursery inspection program, as well as for private companies and residents.

Guidelines for Submitting an Insect to the Lab

Bees and Apiary
Removal of Bees
Africanized Honey Bees

Current Hot Topics

Asian Citrus Psyllid and HLB (english)

Asian Citrus Psyllid and HLB (spanish)

Bamboo mealybug has been found in San Diego County. Click on the link to view the informational flyer.

Other Insect Information


Due to the closure of lobbies as required by social distancing measures, the lab is no longer taking physical samples for determination. However, we are now accepting virtual samples. Please take clear pictures of the specimen and email to:

Residents are encouraged to submit unfamiliar insects to the lab for identification. These insects are important to our program of protecting US and California agriculture because resident submissions often allow us to become aware of exotic pests and how widespread they are in San Diego County.

: Please bring fresh, intact insects for identification to AWM (further details below).  When you submit insects you must complete a “Specimen for Determination” form that requires a complete mailing address and a description of where the insect was collected. You may either print a form from this website and mail it with the insect, or drop off the form and insect at the AWM Dropbox located outside the front doors at 9325 Hazard Way San Diego 92123 or 151 East  Carmel Street, San Marcos 92078. Your insect determination is usually returned by mail within 2 weeks of submission with information on the insect.

Please ensure that you have COMPLETELY and LEGIBLY filled out the address portion of the form because this is used by the US Postal Service to deliver your results.

Specimen determination form

You may mail or drop off the specimen at the North County Office or the Kearny Mesa Agriculture, Weights & Measures Offices, addresses and telephone numbers below.

            North County Office:             Agriculture, Weights & Measures

                                                            County of San Diego

                                                            151 East Carmel Street

                                                            San Marcos, CA 92078


            Kearny Mesa Office:              Agriculture, Weights & Measures

                                                            County of San Diego

                                                            9325 Hazard Way, Suite 100

                                                            San Diego, CA 92123-1256



From the Garden: If the insects are living on the leaf tissue of a tomato plant, snip a branch off of the tomato plant and immediately drop the specimen into a plastic zipper bag with air.  If they are hopping insects such as a psyllid, it is best to carefully place the plastic bag over the end of the branch first, close the bag and then cut the branch to prevent the insects from flying away once disturbed.

From the Home: The insects should be delivered in a plastic zipper bag, jar, pill bottle or small plastic container.  The insect may be preserved in alcohol if possible. If not, a small container will do. Avoid submitting samples on tape, or which have been squished, but insect sticky traps may be submitted.  Our entomologist only deals with pests of agricultural concern; therefore you should contact County Vector Control 858-694-2888 for expertise on pet or human health insects (e.g. biting or blood-feeding insects). The entomologist does not deal with insects of medical concern.

The Entomology Laboratory welcomes all submissions associated with the commercial production of an agricultural commodity.  The Lab will also assist the pest control industry as staffing permits, as well as citizens with residential concerns.

Plant Disease Diagnosis Resources

As a courtesy to the public, AWM offers a Lab Working Group to provide plant disease diagnostic resources for homeowners, landscaping services, and pest control businesses. We currently accept virtual samples at

Please use the following resources in the order listed to learn more about your plant pest problem:


·         University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, Statewide Integrated Pest Management (UCANR)

Search on a wide variety of plants to get information on optimum growing conditions, common disorders, and diseases

o   Diagnostics

o   Pest Management Guidelines

(Please note: Pesticides listed here are for commercial production only)

·         UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) in other states and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

o   Citrus Disease ID Tool

A Gallery of citrus maladies provided by the USDA and University of Florida

*Please note: Use reputable science-based sources specific to your geographic region from USDA, State Agriculture Departments, and University Extension Services.


If you are still unsure of your plant pest problem, please consider the following:

1. Call the Master Gardeners Association of San Diego County Hotline or contact them by email here.

Plant Pest Hotline 858 822 6910

2. Professional Tree Care Association of San Diego

Local resource for non-specific palm, oak or tree maladies. Directory of licensed arborists and pesticide applicators for tree care.

3. Submit a virtual sample to San Diego county AWM Lab Working Group:

Please take clear pictures and fill out a Specimen for Determination form to accompany your sample


If you have used the local Agricultural Commissioner’s Office and all the resources above, and you believe your plant malady to be unique or invasive, you might consider shipping your sample directly to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

Before you ship, please contact the Report a Pest Hotline or Sighting Form for guidance.




CDFA Plant Pest Diagnostics Center in Sacramento can identify plants, insects, nematodes, diseases, and seeds and assist growers meeting export requirements. Please see their website for more information for the fees and arrangements and specifically Plant Pathology here.

Submitting a carefully collected sample is key to successful diagnosis from the scientist. Basic guidelines on how to take a sample for CDFA Plant Pest Diagnostics are described in the links below:

·         Plant Pathology

·         Nematology

·         Botany

·         Entomology

We hope the above guidance helps you determine what maladies are affecting your plants and/or trees.  Once you begin to observe your landscape regularly you will gain experience in knowing when your plants and trees need care.  We hope these guidelines help you improve your plant health.