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Beneficial Robber fly

Florida Keys Plant Clinics

Beneficial lady beetle larva feeding on whiteflies

Beneficial lady beetle larva feeding on whiteflies. Credit: L. Buss, UF/IFAS

Each month, Monroe County Extension Service and the Master Gardener Volunteers, host numerous plant clinics throughout the Florida Keys. This is an opportunity for residents to bring in plant or insect samples for identification, get growing tips for our tropical environment, talk with Master Gardner volunteers about proper planting practices, or discuss any other issues or questions about their garden or landscape. This is a free resource for the residents of Monroe County.

Accurate Identification

By having the problem accurately identified, you can help answer questions like:

Oleander aphids with beneficial parasitic wasp

Oleander aphids with beneficial parasitic wasp. Credit: M. Leonard-Mularz, UF/IFAS

Is this a plant pest?
Does this need to be controlled?
What are the safest products available?

Often times when our office is contacted about a problem, control measures have already been taken and failed. This contributes to the overuse of pesticides and can be harmful to beneficial insects and the environment. In fact, according to an EPA 2017 report, U.S. pesticide sales totaled nearly $9 billion in 2012.

So, by utilizing this free service,  residents can help reduce pesticide use in the landscape, encourage beneficial insect populations, and learn other pest management strategies.

Best Practices
False blister beetle, can be a nuisance when in homes.

False blister beetle, not considered a pest but can be a nuisance when in homes. Credit: L. Buss, UF/IFAS

When bringing plant or insect samples, please have them sealed in a plastic bag or other appropriate container. Photos of the plant or problem in the landscape are always helpful, even if you are bringing a sample. Make sure photos are clear and in focus. Include close-up photos of the problem, in addition to the healthy portion of the plant. It can also be helpful to see where the plant comes into contact with the soil to help determine potential root issues that may be contributing to the problem.

Trying to determine the cause of plant decline can be like solving a puzzle, so be prepared to answer questions about how the plant is being maintained: how long ago was it planted, symptom progression, have their been any chemicals like herbicides or other pesticides used, water, fertilization and other questions that may help solve the puzzle. Remember, often multiple issues can contribute to plant decline and in order to accurately diagnose a problem, we need to understand how the plant is being managed.

Plant Clinic Dates

Plant clinic times are from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (unless otherwise noted) on the dates listed below, excluding holidays. Please check with our office for any date changes if the plant clinic falls on a holiday week.

Key West 1st Monday of each month, 11AM to 2PM
Key West Garden Club, 1100 Atlantic Blvd.

3rd Saturday of each month
Key West Botanical Garden Nursery, 5210 College Rd., Stock Island

Marathon 3rd Saturday of each month
Home Depot Garden Center, 4555 Overseas Hwy
Islamorada 4th Wednesday of each month, 10AM to 1PM
Island Home Garden Center, 88720 Overseas Hwy
Key Largo 1st Wednesday of each month
Murray Nelson Government Bldg, Auditorium, 102050 Overseas Hwy

3rd Wednesday of each month
Garden Club of the Upper Keys, 94040 Overseas Hwy

We also have a virtual helpdesk for assistance with gardening or landscaping questions that need to be addressed outside of these times. If you are unable to make it to one of our in-person locations, you can email our Master Gardener Volunteers at The flyer below can be downloaded and printed to keep track of plant clinic availability.

For any additional questions, you can contact our office at (305) 292-4501 or

Banner image: Robber fly. Robber flies are excellent predators and can attack other flies, grasshoppers and wasps.