Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Service alert Open

All Middlesex County buildings will remain closed to the general public until further notice due to COVID-19. Only select County services are available on an appointment basis.


Identifying insects (including ticks), weeds, plant diseases and household pests.

Our office will provide general diagnostics and solutions for plant material or insect problem samples submitted at the EARTH Center.  Routine diagnostics include:  plant identification, insect identification, plant pest problems, and tick identification.

Tick samples are a priority and examined as soon as possible. For most diagnostics the response time is two weeks or less, but in the height of the growing season, the response time may be longer.
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County offers this service free of charge to County residents at the EARTH Center, 42 Riva Ave. in Davidson Mill Pond Park, South Brunswick.
Samples can be dropped off or mailed to our office. All samples must be accompanied by a detailed description and if possible a completed sample form ( available below). If mailing samples, secure insects/ticks in a crush-proof container.   Plant material should be placed in a plastic bag or plastic wrap or wax paper inside an envelope.  It is important to include enough plant material  (for plant disease - good and bad tissue, for plant ID - leaves, stems, flower, fruit), so we can make as accurate a diagnosis as possible.  If plant samples are wet, dry them to minimize deterioration of the sample in shipment.


RUTGERS PLANT DIAGNOSTIC LABORATORY -  The Rutgers Plant Diagnostic Lab, located on the Cook Campus, of Rutgers University, is a "for fee" service.  The Lab offers services which include: golf and landscape turf recommendations, plant identification, plant disease and insect problem recommendations, insect Identification, mold identification, and nematode detection (primarily for commercial growers). 

Corresponding forms are to be completed and submitted with the samples.  For more information about the diagnostic service,  contact our office  at 732 398-5262 or visit the Rutgers Plant Diagnostic Laboratory website.


Identification Forms (Adobe PDF) for Extension office diagnostic service:

(Not for Use with Rutgers Plant Diagnostic Lab)

Tick Specimen Identification Form
Insect Specimen Identification Form
Plant Specimen Identification Form
Lawn Disease Identification Form
Plant Disease​ Identification Form


If you are having trouble growing grass or tomatoes or azaleas or whatever plant you desire, it may be your soil.  Your soil needs to have certain traits desirable to the plant for its success. Your Extension office provides Soil Test kits  for a fee to help you determine what your soil conditions are, so you can either adjust your soil or choose different plants  to grow in the area.

Don’t guess, soil test!  Rutgers Cooperative Extension makes this service available for a nominal fee to New Jersey citizens. The most frequently needed/requested test is called the Standard Fertility Test. The Standard Fertility analysis will determine your soil’s pH and nutrient levels.
The results of your soil test will reflect the amount of nutrients available in your soil. Micro- and Macro Nutrients (Phosphorous. Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium,  Copper, Manganese, Boron, Zinc and Iron) are quantified to determine their availability to plants. 
Another goal of soil testing is to measure the soil pH. Knowing the pH is necessary to determine whether soil amendments are necessary in a soil/planting area.  If the soil is not in the optimum range for a particular planting type, amendments can  be made to improve the condition. Soil pH is important because it affects availability of soil mineral nutrients and the solubility of aluminum, which can be toxic to plant roots.
Directions on how to take a sample and where they should be sent are found on the sampling bag. Based on your results, and considering site conditions and intended usage, fertilizer and liming recommendations for your crop are given by the Soil Testing Laboratory for optimal plant growth. Should you need assistance with your soil test report, Extension Agriculture Division faculty can help you interpret these results.
Currently the cost for a Standard Fertility Soil Test Kit is $20.00. 
Requests for kits can not exceed 10 per person.

Soil Test Kits can be purchased at the E.A.R.T.H. Center from 9 AM – 4 PM Monday through Friday.  
For more information on this and other types of tests run by the lab, call the E.A.R.T.H. Center at    
732-398-5262 or visit the Rutgers Soil Testing Lab website .


Back to top