A new online resource offers help to landowners in diagnosing insect and/or disease-related problems in their backyards, groves or forests. Run by forest health specialists at the University of Florida and the Florida Forest Service, the Forest Health Diagnostics Forum offers a free, fast and accurate way to diagnose forest pests and diseases in Florida and the Southeast.
Concerned landowners can log into the forum to ask questions that are instantly sent to five specialists with expertise in wood borers, forest pathology and tree diseases, galls and defoliators, and timber and household pests. Answers are sent back by email; questions and answers are added to the forum for others to follow.
For more detailed diagnostics, landowners can upload photos, mail actual samples, or schedule a visit to their location. Diagnostics on the online forum are free; photos from phones and digital cameras are usually sufficient to diagnose most common tree issues.
To get a definitive answer, or to diagnose more unusual pests or diseases, users can mail the insect or a piece of the tree to the diagnostic group. The service charges $8.00 for a visual identification; if the disease requires culturing or DNA analysis, the charge is $40.00 or $72.00 per sample, respectively.
There are unusual cases in which the only way to make a diagnosis is for a forest health specialist to make a site visit. The forest health specialists are available for site visits for $40 plus $0.445 per mile.
The forum is the brainchild of University of Florida forest entomologist Jiri Hulcr, and is supported by contributions from the Forest Service Southern Research Station and Forest Health Protection, the State of Florida, and the University of Florida.
For more information, email Jiri Hulcr at firstname.lastname@example.org.