Citizen Scientists in Alaska Watch for Invasive Species

To expand the number of eyes watching out for exotic and invasive pests, the Alaska IPM Program recruites “Citizen Scientists” to be on the lookout for unusual insects, plants and disease organisms throughout the state.

“Citizen scientists, or perceptive people, have made some of the most significant pest detections in recent decades, including the Asian Longhorn Beetle and other invasive species,” said Gino Graziano, an invasive species instructor with the program. “Our goal is to educate individuals who enjoy observing the natural world and are curious about learning more about what they see.”

The more citizen scientists looking for insect, plant and disease organisms throughout our state, Graziano said, the better informed officials will be on issues that may impact the environment, natural resources and the state’s food supply.

To make reporting easy, the Alaska IPM Program set up a pest identification and reporting portal on the web, allowing folks to easily upload their digital photos of unusual insects and plants.

“The information submitted is sent to a statewide team who promptly respond with information regarding the sample,” Graziano said. “As needed, information can be sent to local or state land resource managers who quickly respond to potential problems.”

In 2013, citizen scientists uploaded more than 30 submissions to the site, and although none were new species in the state, several were high-priority weeds, Graziano said.

The Alaska IPM Citizen Monitoring Portal can be found here.