High Tech Pest Diagnostics

May 26, 2000
Last season, Extension clientele in 12 Illinois counties received diagnosis of their pest problems through the University of Illinois Extension Digital Distance Diagnostics Imaging (DDDI) pilot project. Pilot counties equipped with digital cameras and dissecting microscopes submitted digital images of plant and pest samples that Extension clients brought into their local Extension office, to regional Extension educators throughout the state via the Internet. The pilot was a great success and the program has been expanded statewide for this growing season. County Extension personnel new to the DDDI project have been attending training sessions we have held throughout the state during the past month.

So how can you use this new service? The process to submit a sample for DDDI diagnosis or identification is the same as submitting a sample to the traditional University of Illinois Plant Diagnostic Clinic. Bring a high-quality representative sample of the entire plant or pest to your local Extension Unit office. County personnel will ask you to fill out a DDDI sample form, and then they will use the digital camera and/or dissecting microscope to take high-quality pictures of the plant or pest sample. Instead of packing and mailing the sample to the Plant Clinic, they use the Internet to instantly send the information and the pictures to Extension educators around the state. The information resides on a Web site that is exclusive to Extension personnel for your privacy.

Who is this service most useful to? Just about anyone involved in plant production can benefit from the DDDI system. We have educators throughout the state with expertise in agronomy, plant pathology, and horticulture ready to diagnose and identify production and pest problems on commercial forage, field, vegetable, fruit, and turf crops, and on home horticulture plant problems. Currently the system is free of charge.

Based on the pilot project, you can expect a diagnosis within a day or two. Last year 80% of the samples were diagnosed within 48 hours. While the DDDI is a considerable leap in increasing the amount of information available to the diagnostician, be aware that it is not appropriate for all samples, and some may still need to be sent to the Plant Clinic for definitive diagnosis. For more informations call Suzanne Bissonnette or Loretta Ortiz-Ribbing at (217)333-4901.--Loretta Ortiz-Ribbing

Author: Loretta Ortiz-Ribbing