Help using Find-A-Pest

Help keep New Zealand free of new weeds and pests

Ring Biosecurity NZ immediately if you're confident it's important

Call MPI on 0800 80 99 66

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

The Basics

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.

App Screenshot
The splash screen of the app that you'll see when you first launch it.

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.

App Screenshot
The first time you use the app, you'll need to sign up/log in to iNaturalist NZ. That let's Find-A-Pest use the iNaturalist NZ to help ID your observations.

App Screenshot
The first time you sign up to iNaturalist NZ, you'll be asked if you authorise Find-A-Pest to access your iNat account. Click the blue "Authorize" button and you're all good.

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 essentials

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.

App Screenshot
The Profile will need you to enter a mobile phone number before Find-A-Pest will allow you to submit observations. This is a requirement because if you find an important new pest to New Zealand, Biosecurity New Zealand staff may need to get hold of you urgently.

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.

App Screenshot
Set your Profile with the region of New Zealand that you're in or are interested in. Find-A-Pest will then display the thumbnails and fact sheets for the pests and weeds of most threat to your region.

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.

App Screenshot
In your Profile you can turn on as many sectors as you like. Find-A-Pest will load the pests and weeds of your sectors into your app so you can browse and observe those pests online and offline.

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.

App Screenshot
In your Profile you can switch from English to Te Reo.

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.

App Screenshot
In your Profile you can choose to obscure all of your observations to a 10 km radius when iNaturalist NZ is used to make an identification. The default is "off" as you can also choose to do this when you submit individual observations.

Note that your locations are only publicly obscured. The secure and private back-end observation database of Find-A-Pest will contain your exact coordinates, and by using the app and agreeing with our privacy policy, you are allowing us to share those exact coordinates to representatives of official New Zealand biosecurity agencies. If you have chosen to obscure your observations, those agencies will be requested to not make your exact location known publicly.

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.

App Screenshot
After you've signed in and set up your profile, this will be the first screen you see when you start up the app. The blue camera icon lets you take a photo of anything and get it identified.

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.

App Screenshot App Screenshot
When you tap the blue camera, and take a photo or choose one from your camera library, you'll then see this observation screen. It's shown here in English and Te Reo Māori. You can add more photos if you want, add a description if you want, then tap the "Submit finding" button. "Possibly from imported goods" is for when you find a critter crawl out of a box that's arrived in the post from overseas.

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.

App Screenshot App Screenshot
When you submit your finding, if you're online Find-A-Pest will submit it for identification. If you're offline, it will queue it and submit it next time you're online.

Fact sheets

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.

App Screenshot
The main app screen displays a "rogues' galleries" of the pests and weeds your sector would most like you to look out for. Scroll down to see them all and tap any one to read its fact sheet.

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.

App Screenshot
Swipe left to see the National list of the most important potential pests and weeds threatening New Zealand, as identified by Biosecurity 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.

App Screenshot
Swipe right to see the Regional list of the most important potential pests and weeds identified by the bisecurity staff of your region's regional council.

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.

App Screenshot
Above is an example of a Find-A-Pest fact sheet, in this case Chilean needlegrass, a serious weed of pastoral farming that is spreading through NZ.

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.

App Screenshot App Screenshot
Your activity page (left) shows the progress being made on all of the observations you submit. Tap on any one of them to see the details (right), including comments made by identifiers.

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.

P.S. If you want something in hard copy, we've made a pamphlet, available in English and Te Reo, that you're welcome to print out and use.

English brochure | Maaori brochure