Enlist your smartphone to help repel invasive species

The first step to repeling invasive species is finding out where the invasion is taking place. If you have a smartphone, you can be part of the defense, thanks to a new free app.

“Garlic mustard, bush honeysuckle, and buckthorn are three examples of invasive plants that can take over natural and managed landscapes,” says UW-Madison extension weed scientist Mark Renz. “While these species are widely distributed, many parts of the Great Lakes region are free of these and other invasive plants. By using this app, citizens can report these pests and increase our knowledge of invasive plant locations and curb the spread of these harmful plants.”

The app, developed by the Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN) and Early Detection Distribution and Mapping System (EDDMapS) allows people to send pictures and locations of the invasive plants to an online mapping system. Land managers can use this information to respond to the new pests as they are emerging.

Reporting species through this app will result in the location being sent to local land managers registered with GLEDN once the observation is verified. Local groups such as Cooperative Weed Management Areas (CWMA) can then respond to these new infestations and eliminate them before they spread.

The app uses the phone or tablet’s GPS and camera capabilities to geo-locate the reported species and allow the device’s operator to provide a photo of the reported species. Pictures allow verifiers in the two organizations to quickly confirm observations. Once confirmed, observations will be visible on maps found on the ( GLEDN ) and ( EDDMapS ) websites. The app also allows for reporting of invasive animals, insects and diseases.

The free app is available at