First Detector, a program of the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN), equips a nationwide network of volunteers to rapidly detect and report the presence of invasive, exotic plant pathogens, arthropods, nematodes, and weeds. Since 2003, over 17,500 participants have attended First Detector training sessions, and programs have been offered in all 50 states and each U.S. territory.



How it Works

1. Training
In-person workshops and online e-learning modules equip First Detectors with the knowledge and skills needed to identify and report pests and pathogens.


2. Monitoring & Detecting
First Detectors use a variety of field resources - some found in e-learning modules or under the resources menu - to recognize invasive species in their region.




3. Reporting
First Detectors follow species-specific protocol to rapidly report any invasive pest or plant pathogen occurance either by online mapping or  submitting a sample.


4. Confirming & Diagnosing
Experts rapidly review suspect samples. Follow the link below to learn more about the National Plant Diagnostic Network's screening practices!




Awareness: the first line of defense

Early discovery is imperative for eradicating or controlling the spread of invasive species, and First Detectors play an essential role in this operation. As an invasive species' population increases and spreads undetected, the resources necessary to combat its further spread increase exponentially and eradication approaches impossible. With increases in international trade and travel accelerating the rate of exotic pest introductions, we need as many people as possible monitoring for new pests so we can detect their presence early and reduce their overall impacts on our economy and environment. First Detectors are the eyes and ears of the detection process, helping safeguard our agricultural and natural plant resources.


Associated Programs

Protect U.S.Sentinel Plant Network




USDAExtension Disaster Education NetworkRegional IPM CenterCenter for Invasive Species and Ecosystem HealthNational Plant Board



Contact Us

Questions and comments may be directed to:

Rachel McCarthy
NPDN Training and Education Coordinator
(607) 255-7871