On-Duty Biologist Program
Is something bugging you? We may be able to help.
Every weekday from 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. a biologist is "On Duty" to answer your questions about insects found in your home or garden. We can also help with questions about plant diseases and general gardening. You can call us or bring a sample to our office for help.
If you would like to bring in a sample, please follow these guidelines:
Place in a clean glass or plastic container with tight fitting lid. If the insect is dead, place a small amount of Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol in the container to preserve it. **Please do not collect insects on scotch tape. We generally cannot identify samples collected that way.
For general identification, bring in a sample of flowers, fruit or seeds (if present) and a stem portion with leaves attached, approximately 12 inches long. For disease identification, bring in a part of the plant showing both healthy and diseased symptoms along the same stem portion.
Unable to get to our office to bring in your sample?
Take advantage of our "Who Done It?" program*. We work with several nurseries in the county (see listing below) to provide a convenient place to take your insect samples for identification. Nursery staff may be able to identify the sample for you and if they can't, they'll call us to pick up the sample and identify it for you. This provides a great service to you and can help us detect new insects before they become established.
*Please note that this service is not provided for plant samples, only insect samples. For assistance with plant disease samples, visit the UC Berkeley free plant clinic.
Open the first Saturday of every month, from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
UC Berkeley Botanic Garden
200 Centennial Drive
UC campus, Berkeley
Visit our insect, weed, vertebrate, plant disease, and exotic pest galleries for pictures and information about pests and insects commonly found in the Bay Area.
- "Who Done It" List of Participating Nurseries (PDF - 43KB) *
For general gardening questions, insect identification, plant diseases:
University of California Agricultural Extension Service, Master Gardeners
For composting questions, composting classes and compost or worm bin purchases:
Alameda County Waste Management Authority "Rotline"
For questions about rat control, wasps and yellow jackets:
Alameda County Vector Control
For questions about insect pests affecting human health:
Alameda County Department of Environmental Health
For questions about mosquito control, West Nile Virus, how to get Mosquito Fish:
Mosquito Abatement (510) 783-7744
* Portable Document Format (PDF) file requires the free Adobe Reader.