Find-A-Pest app plays important role in pest response

Pests can be devastating to New Zealand’s primary industry and unique island ecosystems, but we can all help to protect our country against them.

One tool available is Find-A-Pest – a free app that provides users with simple options to share potential pest observations, and make sure their sightings get to the right people.

Find-A-Pest can play an important role in our response to new pest arrivals, such as gold clam in the Waikato River, exotic Caulerpa in the ocean, and fall army worm. These pests all pose a serious threat and the earlier a response can get moving the better the outcome will be. An effective rapid response relies on good information about the occurrence and spread of the pest. Resources like Find-A-Pest can help with building this knowledge and better informing pest incursion responses.

Find-A-Pest is a collaborative project based at the University of Canterbury between DOC, MPI, regional councils, Te Tira Whakamataki and primary industry groups including NZ Wine, KVH, NZ Forest Owners Association, Summerfruit NZ, Horticulture NZ, and Apples & Pears NZ.

The app is easy to use. Observations are made simply by clicking the camera button. Photos with good definition are better for identification. Try taking photos from multiple angles and of multiple parts of the specimen as well as photographing the habitat or place you found it. Include the location, date, time and any other behavioural or curious observations in your submission. The goal is to provide a good snippet of information that can be used to make an accurate identification of what you have seen.

Alternatively, you can use one of the factsheets, which highlight species of interest. You can search for suspected species by organism type or industry. If the species you observed isn’t listed you can use the AI identification function and send the observation in as a report for a biosecurity professional to check.

When you make an observation, you will quickly get help from specialists at Find-A-Pest and via the iNaturalist (another great app to check out) New Zealand community. If your observation is a potential biosecurity threat it may be forwarded to Biosecurity New Zealand who will contact you for more information if they feel it is necessary.

The more species that are observed, the better. The only way we will catch on to new invasive species is by making observations about any species we find curious.

However, observations don’t have to be the discovery of a new pest to be useful. Gaining more understanding of the occurrence, spread and seasonal buildup of pests is very important to improving biosecurity measures and preparing industry actions.

Making observations also a great way to learn about the pests you see and be better prepared to deal with them.

Find-A-Pest is your opportunity to participate in the Ko Tātou movement of all New Zealanders contributing to biosecurity.

Hand holding a smartphone displaying the Find a Pest app.

Share your potential pest observations using the Find-A-Pest app.