Ring Biosecurity NZ immediately if you're confident it's important
If you're confident that you've found a pest species new to New Zealand, please don't hesitate to call Biosecurity New Zealand free at 0800 80 99 66.
If you're less sure, or if it's a pest already in New Zealand that's spreading, use the Find-A-Pest app to take photo(s) and report your observation. We'll identify it, tell you what it is, and pass your observation on to the relevant agencies.
If you need help with the Find-A-Pest app or have questions, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you first use the app, you'll need to get set up with a free iNaturalist NZ account, provide Find-A-Pest with you preferred contact phone number (in case you find a new pest of critical importance), and give permission for the app to access your camera and location. In your profile you can also set the region and sector you are most interested in. See the Installing and set-up below for details.
You only need to sign in and set up once. After that, the app is good to go each time you open it.
The quickest way to find a pest is to open the app, tap the blue camera icon, take/select a photo, name it if you know it (but no need to if you don't), and submit your finding. Blue-Name-Submit. Boom-boom-boom. More details are in the The blue camera button section below.
Our Find-A-Pest identifiers and the experts on iNaturalist NZ will quickly get stuck in to identifying what you submit and you'll see their identifications and comments on the Activity page on your app.
You can also browse the thumbnails of what we call our "rogues' galleries" to learn about the most important pest animals and pest plants you should be looking out for in your region and sector. Tap on any one to see a fact sheet for that pest. From each fact sheet, you can tap a button to submit a photo if you think you've found that pest.
If you're not sure whether something is a pest, please don't hestitate to tap the blue button, take a photo, and submit it. Our identifiers are keen to see everything you find, knowing that your next photo might be the first record of a nasty new arrival in your area.
Installing and set-up
From early February 2019 you'll be able to find the Find-A-Pest on the Google Play store and the Apple AppStore. It's free to install and use.
Like many apps, Find-A-Pest won't work unless we know who you are. This is particularly important with Find-A-Pest as we need to be able to contact you for more details should you make an important discovery. Because of this, when you first use Find-A-Pest, you will be asked to sign up, using a free iNaturalist NZ account (or log in with your existing iNaturalist NZ if you already have one).
You will then be asked to provide a contact phone number. Only Find-A-Pest gets your phone number We will only ever share this information with relevant official New Zealand biosecurity agencies when needed to support their biosecurity responses.
Sign in with an iNaturalist NZ account
The first time you use the app you will need to sign up or log in to iNaturalist NZ. The app will load a page that lets you do this. If you've already got an account on iNaturalist NZ (it's free), then just enter your username/email and password.If you're not already on iNaturalist NZ, then follow the instructions to sign up. You might need to do a short image recognition test to demonstrate to iNaturalist NZ that you're not a robot, and give authorisation to let your iNaturalist NZ account be used by Find-A-Pest. Once you've signed in once, you won't need to do it again. Thanks for your patience with this. Find-A-Pest needs to connect you to iNaturalist NZ so we can use the expertise on iNaturalist NZ to help identify the species you find.
Complete your profile
The first time you use Find-A-Pest, after you sign up/log in to iNaturalist NZ, you will also be invited to fill in the Profile Settings page. You can also make changes to this at any time. For the app to function well, it needs to know your contact phone number (in case one of your finds triggers a biosecurity alert and we need to contact you). You won't be able to make observations until we have a phone number.
The Profile Settings also ask you to tell us what region you are in, so that Find-A-Pest can focus on the pests (including weeds) that are most important to your region. You can change this setting when you travel. In future, we expect Find-A-Pest to be able to do this automatically but for now this is a manual setting.
The Profile Settings then asks you to tell us what sector(s) you are most interested in, again so Find-A-Pest can focus on the pests (including weeds) that are most relevant to you. By default only Weeds is turned on. You can turn that off if you wish, and turn on as many of the other sectors as interest you. Find-A-Pest contains pest lists and fact sheets appropriate for each sector and region of New Zealand.
As Find-A-Pest develops, we hope to add many more sectors to meet the needs of more New Zealand outdoor industries.
Extra Profile Settings
You have the option of changing the app language to Te Reo Māori. At this stage, doing so will switch all the buttons and instructions in the app to Te Reo with the exception of the pest fact sheet text, which for the moment remains in English only. We hope to complete a full translation of the fact sheets in the future.
There is also the option to Obscure Location for all of your observations. Turning this on means that any observation you make that gets sent to iNaturalist NZ for identification will have its location publicly obscured within a 10 km radius. This means that identifiers on iNaturalist NZ will know approximately, but not exactly, where you were. You also have the option of doing this on a per-observation basis.
Using the app
The blue camera button
If you've found something you don't recognise that you think might be a pest, all you have to do is open Find-A-Pest, tap the blue camera icon, take photo(s), and submit. That's it. Experts will soon afterwards send you back an identification, and possibly a comment. If it's an important find, it will be passed on to the relevant agencies.
The first time you make an observation, Find-A-Pest should ask for your permission to access your device's camera and location. The app won't function properly without access to your camera and location. If you at first declined to give Find-A-Pest this permission, you can always change this later in your device's Settings app.
If you're using Find-A-Pest offline, the observations you make will be queued inside the app. Next time you're on wi-fi or data and have Find-A-Pest open, your queued observations will upload to the Find-A-Pest server for identification.
Find-A-Pest displays pages of thumbnails of the worst pests (including weeds) that agencies in your region and sector would like you to watch out for. Click on any one of those thumbnail images to get to a fact sheet all about the species, how to identify it, and why it is considered a pest.
Your Find-A-Pest screen will always have three "rogues' galleries" of pests. The middle gallery, which you'll see when you open your app, is the gallery of pests for your selected sector in your selected region. For example, if you've set up Find-A-Pest for weeds of Canterbury, this middle rogues' gallery will display the worst new and potential weeds of Canterbury, as set by Environment Canterbury.
Swipe left, or tap on National near the left of your screen, and you'll see the National rogue's gallery of the worst new and potential weeds in all of New Zealand that Biosecurity New Zealand most wants you to look out for. These are not just for your sector or region but all of the most important potential pests and weeds threatening New Zealand.
Tap on Regional near the right of your screen and you'll see the Regional rogue's gallery of the worst spreading and potential pests of your region, as selected by your regional council. Again, these are pests relevant not just to your sector but to everyone in your region.
Click on any pest thumbnail to see that pest's fact sheet. On every fact sheet is a button that lets you make an observation of that pest, if you think you've found it.
If you know what a pest is that you've found, just use the search (the magnifying glass icon in the top right of the screen) to search on the pest (by common name or scientific name), tap on the name, and tap the "Report This Pest" button.
At the botton of the Find-A-Pest screen you'll see the Pests and Activity options. When you open the app, you're on the Pests screen. The Activity screen displays all the activity on your submitted observations. You'll see identifications and comments made on your observations by Find-A-Pest experts and iNaturalist NZ experts. If you make a particularly important find of a new-to-New Zealand pest, you'll also see that it's been sent to Biosecurity New Zealand, who may then contact you if they need further details.
Most of the action on Find-A-Pest happens behind the scenes. Every observation you make will be looked at and responded to by real people at Find-A-Pest and iNaturalist NZ. The experts on iNaturalist NZ help us to identify the pest species that are not commercially sensitive, like established weeds still spreading through New Zealand. All unknown species and commercially sensitive species are looked at by Find-A-Pest experts, including biologists working in our collaborating agencies. They may forward on observations to iNaturalist NZ of species that they know are not commercially sensitive. Regardless, our network of identifiers are on standby to promptly identify the species in your submitted observations as accurately as possible from your photos.
In the Find-A-Pest version 1.0, you cannot (yet) reply to comments made by identifiers from the app. If there are comments made from iNaturalist NZ, you can always go to the iNaturalist NZ website or use the free iNaturalist app to reply to comments. This is a feature we hope to add to Find-A-Pest soon.
Thanks again for using Find-A-Pest. We hope you find it a useful way to find and report pests and weeds in your neighbourhood. We look forward to seeing what you find next.