Diagnosing Plant Problems

When trying to diagnose problems with poor plant performance due to insects and other pests, it is important to gather as much information as possible. Ideally, you would “see for yourself” by visiting the site where you can gather the most information. But sometimes you may have to rely on documentation, samples, and descriptions from those submitting the issue. The following tips should help.

It is important to know the type of plant being attacked. This may help narrow down the identity of the pest. Many pests have preferred host plants that they target, and most pest identification references are organized by the type of host plant.

When determining corrective actions, consider the life cycle of the pests and the timing around when it was detected and diagnosed. It could be that nothing can be done during the current growing season, or that other things must be done to prevent the problem from reoccurring in the next growing season.

Make sure that you have properly identified the root cause before recommending or taking corrective actions. It could be that the pests are not the real problem. The problem could be caused by disease, too little or too much water, too little or too much light, or other conditions and cultural practices.