Random invasive species images that represents what NISIC does
USDA.gov NAL NISIC Sudden oak death Formosan subterranean termite Yellow star thistle Giant African snail Cactus moth Purple loosestrife
HomeAbout National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC)News and EventscouncilHelpContact Us
 Search the National Invasive Species Information Center
   
Search all USDA
Advanced Search
Search Tips
Browse by Geography
United States
International
Browse by Subject
Aquatic Species
Plants
Animals
Microbes
Economic Impacts
Laws and Regulations
Manager's Tool Kit
Resource Library
 
You are here: Home / Resource Library / Identification Resources
Resource Library
  
Identification Resources

Provides general resources to help identify unknown species that may be invasive. Species identification is important in helping gardeners, land managers, and landscape architects identify invasive species that can be harmful to local habitats. Resources are organized alphabetically by organization.

An important caveat is it can be difficult to identify species properly on the Internet. If you are unable to identify the species in question, you may want to contact your county office in the Cooperative Extension System (see Partners and Extension Map) and work with Extension personnel to obtain assistance from an area agent or state specialist (select state to see state pest detection contacts). Or, you may want to use the Ask an Expert feature of eXtension - Invasive Species.

See other sections for species specific information:

Busting Bugs: USDA Creates Online Tools to ID Pests (Aug 14, 2013)
USDA. Blog.
ID Tools helps agency staff to quickly identify pests, including insects, diseases, harmful weeds, and more, through an efficient, online database system. ID Tools currently includes more than 30 websites covering a vast array of pests and pests associated with specific commodities.

Identification Resources: Insects, Plants & Diseases
University of Florida. Cooperative Extension.
Many Florida residents find unknown plants growing in their yard, unknown bugs in their houses or gardens, and apparent diseases on what were previously healthy plants. But Florida residents may not know what resources are available to identify these disease, plant, and pest organisms.

General

Species Identification Tools
eNature.com.

Training: Species Identification
Midwest Invasive Species Information Network.
The invasive species education modules will help you become more comfortable with identifying these species in the field. Each module includes a short ten question quiz at the end to help you assess your newly acquired knowledge.

Insect & Spider Identification
New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food.

North American Invasive Identification Guide and Checklist and IDnature Guides
University of Georgia. Discover Life.

Identification Resources: Insects, Plants & Diseases
University of Florida. Cooperative Extension.

Landscape Problem Solver
University of Maryland. Maryland Cooperative Extension.
Identifies plant pests, including insects and diseases. Includes information and instructions for submitting plant or insect samples.

iMapInvasives - Invasive Species Identification Guides
Nature Conservancy. iMapInvasives.
Includes a variety of published guides and internet resources (videos) for use in identifying invasive species that are found in the participating states, provinces, and regions of the iMapInvasives network. The iMapInvasives network is currently comprised of ten U.S. states and one Canadian province (Arizona, Florida, Maine, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Saskatchewan, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia).

Identification Aids Services
USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Recommended resources for those seeking identification assistance. Please note that any individual who believes they have encountered an invasive species or other quarantine significant pest, is encouraged to contact their local Cooperative Extension office for verification (see Partners and Extension Map)

Digital Identification Tools
USDA. APHIS. PPQ. CPHST. Identification Technology Program.
"ITP supports PPQ in its efforts to prevent the entry, spread, and establishment of invasive pests in the U.S. by delivering interactive, electronic identification tools."

Back to Top

Aquatic Species

NOBANIS - Marine Identification Key
European Network on Invasive Alien Species.
The NOBANIS identification key to marine invasive species is a Nordic project based on expert taxonomic knowledge. It is aimed at users in management of invasive species and marine biodiversity who are not trained taxonomists, but it can be useful to anyone with an interest in marine life.

Marine Invasive Species Identification Guide for the Puget Sound Area: Puget Sound Marine Invasive Species Volunteer Monitoring Program (MISM) (Jul 2009; PDF | 1 MB)
Puget Sound Partnership (Washington).

Marine Introduced Species Monitoring Resource Center - Species Identification
Salem Sound Coastwatch (Massachusetts; Gulf of Maine).
Also see - New England Marine Invaders Identification and Potential Marine Invaders Identification

Aquatic Animals

Identifying Michigan Fish (including Snakehead)
Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Asian Carp Key to Identification (PDF | 113 KB)
Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association.

Brief Guide to Crayfish Identification in the Pacific Northwest (2009; PDF | 440 KB)
University of Washington. School of Aquatic and Fishery Science.

How to Identify a Mitten Crab (PDF | 198 KB)
Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force.

Wisconsin Fish Identification
University of Wisconsin Center of Limnology; Wisconsin Sea Grant; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Aquatic Plants

Practical Guidebook for the Identification and Control of Invasive Aquatic and Wetland Plants of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Region (Apr 2003)
San Francisco Estuary Institute.
Identify serious plant invasions in aquatic and wetland habitats of the San Francisco Bay-Delta and watershed. Plants included are considered by Bay-Delta invasive plant experts to represent some of the most significant threats to Bay and Delta waterways and wetlands. This guidebook's goal is to provide you with information to take action against non-native plant invasions. Early detection of invasions can save vast amounts of labor and money. The guidebook can be downloaded and printed in various formats.

Connecticut's Invasive Aquatic and Wetlands Plants Identification Guide (2010; PDF | 8.4 MB)
Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
Bulletin No. 1027.

Aquatic Invasive Plant Identification Guide (PDF | 320 KB)
River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area (Illinois).

Bay Grasses Identification Key
Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The bay grass key was designed to allow you to identify most species of bay grasses found in Maryland.

Identification & Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas
University of Florida. IFAS. Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants.
Langeland, K.A.; Burks, K.C., ed. 1998. Identification & biology of non-native plants in Florida's natural areas. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida. 165 p.
This field guide (first edition), intended as a tool for land managers, covers 62 non-native plant species considered weeds in Florida's natural areas. With descriptions and photographs, the guide provides identification characters of these plants, plus details on their ecological significance, distribution, and life history. The second edition is not currently available online, but may be purchased.
Note: See alternative online version (Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council), by type of species and by individual species.

Plant Recognition Cards
University of Florida. IFAS. Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants.
Includes individual recognition cards available online (can purchase set) by common name and scientific name.
See also: Plant ID Videos.

A Field Guide to Invasive Plants of Aquatic and Wetland Habitats for Michigan (2010; PDF | 4.2 MB)
Michigan State University Extension.

Training - Species Identification
Michigan State University. Midwest Invasive Species Information Network.
The invasive species education modules will help you become more comfortable with identifying these terrestrial plant and aquatic plant species in the field. Each module (approximately 20 minutes) includes a short ten question quiz at the end to help you assess your newly acquired knowledge.

Help with Aquatic Plant Identification
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

Fragmented Phragmites: Overview and Identification of Introduced Exotic and Native Forms of Common Reed (Phragmites australis) (Jun 14, 2006; PDF | 1.73 MB)
DOI. National Park Service.
Jil Swearingen (NPS) developed the following presentation on distinguishing the native and non-native subspecies of Phragmites in the eastern U.S. (but not the Gulf Coast), drawing on information primarily from Dr. Kristin Saltonstall, now at the University of Maryland.

Distinguishing Native and Exotic Forms of Common Reed (Phragmites australis) in the United States (2010; PDF | 2.4 MB)
Plant Conservation Alliance. Alien Plant Working Group.
Produced by: Jil Swearingen, J. and Kristin Saltonstall. 2010. Plant Conservation Alliance, Weeds Gone Wild.

A Field Guide to Common Aquatic Plants of Pennsylvania (2009)
Pennsylvania State University. Cooperative Extension.
Pennsylvania's ponds and lakes support a diverse array of aquatic plant life. This full-color publication was designed to aid you in identifying and managing the most commonly occurring aquatic plants throughout the Commonwealth.

AQUAPLANT: Plant Identification
Texas A&M University. AgriLife Extension Service. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences.
As a pond manager diagnostic tool, "AQUAPLANT is designed to help you identify aquatic plants using photos, drawings, and descriptions. Using this section involves viewing photos and drawings of aquatic plants until you identify the plant in question."

Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science.
Aides in the identification of common weeds and weed seedlings found throughout Virginia and the Southeastern U.S.

Aquatic Weed Identification
State of Washington. King County Department of Natural Resources. Water and Land Resources Division.

Also see Aquatic Weed Identification Flow Chart (PDF | 234 KB)

A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests (2010)
USDA. FS. Southern Research Station; Bugwood Wiki.
Provides information on accurate identification of 56 plants that are aggressively invading forests of the 13 Southern States. It also lists other nonnative invasive plants that are of growing concern. A companion booklet, “A Management Guide for Invasive Plants of Southern Forests,” explains control recommendations, selective application procedures, and prevention measures for these and other plant invaders.

Back to Top

Plants

Identifying Weeds
Australian Government. Department of the Environment and Energy.

What Tree Is That? Tree Identification Field Guide
Arbor Day Foundation.

Identification Key to Weeds
University of California. Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program.

Weed Identification Tool
University of California. Cooperative Extension and Agricultural Experiment Station.

Weed Identification Tool
Colorado Weed Management Association.

Leafsnap: An Electronic Field Guide
Columbia University; University of Maryland; Smithsonian Institution.
Tree identification mobile app using visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs on their leaves.

Plant Recognition Cards
University of Florida. IFAS. Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants.
Includes individual recognition cards available online (can purchase set) by common name and scientific name.
See also: Plant ID Videos.

Field Guide To The Identification of Japanese Stiltgrass: With comparisons to other look-a-like species (Dec 2012)
University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. Bugwood Blog.
Prepared by: Alabama Cooperative Extension System. ANR-1457.
This publication provides descriptions and clear pictures of key characteristics as well as details on how to distinguish several common look-a-like species.

Hawaii's Invasive Plant Species: A Noxious Weed Identification Key
Hawaii Biological Survey.

University of Illinois Plant Clinic
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Extension.
"Provides plant and insect identification, diagnosis of plant disease, insect, weed and chemical injury (chemical injury on field crops only)."

Weed Identification
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research.

Identifying Weeds in Field Crops
Michigan State University. Integrated Pest Management Program.

Weed ID Tool
Michigan State University. Department of Crop and Soil Sciences.

Training - Species Identification
Michigan State University. Midwest Invasive Species Information Network.
The invasive species education modules will help you become more comfortable with identifying these terrestrial plant and aquatic plant species in the field. Each module includes a short ten question quiz at the end to help you assess your newly acquired knowledge. Completing a module should only take about 20 minutes.

Plant Finder
Missouri Botanical Garden.
"The Kemper Garden Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden has pictures, plant information, and sources for many natives that are in the horticultural trade. You can search by scientific or common name. Through their PlantFinder Search options you can also search by preferred habitat, growth form, use (water plant, attracts butterflies, dried flowers, etc), and other characteristics, like good fall color."

Missouri Plants
MissouriPlants.com.

"Provides photographs, descriptions, and keys to the flowering and non-flowering plants of Missouri. This site has a brief key you can click on based on flower color and leaf arrangement. You can scan through images to find the plant you are looking for. The individual plant pages have descriptions and details illustrated by beautiful close-up photos of plant parts like leaves and stems, often showing the range of variation that can be found in a single individual."

Weed Identification
Missoula County Weed District (Montana).
Includes priority 1, 2, 3 weeds and regulated species.

Identification Guides
Montana State University. Center for Invasive Species Management.

Mistaken Identity? Invasive Plants and their Native Look-alikes: an Identification Guide for the Mid-Atlantic (Nov 2008; PDF | 7 MB)
New York Botanical Garden.
Published by the Delaware Department of Agriculture in collaboration with Claude E. Phillips Herbarium at Delaware. State University and Delaware Center for Horticulture
"This publication is a full-color, 62-page booklet. The purpose of the work is to facilitate correct identification of confusingly similar invasive and native plant species. Targeted at land managers, gardeners, conservationists, and all others interested in plants, this booklet covers over 20 invasive species and their native look-alikes."

Identification and Control of Invasive and Troublesome Weeds in North Dakota
North Dakota State University. Extension Service.
A publication to help land managers properly identify and control noxious and invasive weeds found in the state (Publication W1411; reviewed and reprinted May 2015).

Ohio Perennial & Biennial Weed Guide
Ohio State University. Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.
Includes a photo key intended to help the casual user identify a weed. Weeds that look similar are grouped together.

Turf & Weed Identification
North Carolina State University. Center for Turfgrass Environmental Research & Education.

Buffelgrass Identification Guide
Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center.
Provides high-quality, high-resolution pictures of buffelgrass at various life stages and various settings and key characteristics for identifying buffelgrass.

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants
University of Texas at Austin. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Grass Weed Identification Guide
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science.
Aides in the identification of common weeds and weed seedlings found throughout Virginia and the Southeastern U.S.

A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests (2010)
USDA. FS. Southern Research Station; Bugwood Wiki.
Provides information on accurate identification of 56 plants that are aggressively invading forests of the 13 Southern States. It also lists other nonnative invasive plants that are of growing concern. A companion booklet, “A Management Guide for Invasive Plants of Southern Forests,” explains control recommendations, selective application procedures, and prevention measures for these and other plant invaders.

Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests: A Field Guide for Identification and Control (2003)
USDA. FS. Southern Research Station; Invasive.org.
Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS–62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 p.

PLANTS Interactive ID Keys and The PLANTS Database
USDA. Natural Resources Conservation Service. National Plant Data Center.
Also see: Invasive Species & Pests

Plant Identification Tools and Guides
USDA. Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Invasive Species Identification Sheets
USDA. Natural Resources Conservation Service. Connecticut.
The Connecticut NRCS produced Invasive Species Fact Sheets, which contain identification information and a selection of photographs for each species.

Weed Identification Help
King County (Washington).

Weed Identification
Weed Science Society of America.

Weed Identification Tool
University of Wisconsin.
"The database contains 280 of the most common weeds/invasive plants found in agricultural, urban, and natural settings in Wisconsin. The database is organized to ask questions about the unknown plant, and, based on the user's input, the website will produce a list of plants (scientific and common names) along with thumbnail images that match the information entered."

Weed Identification and Management (DVD)
University of Wisconsin. Cooperative Extension.
This DVD (fee based) captures Jerry Doll's short course on weeds, complete with 28 lectures, live video of weed identification, plus video demonstrations of sprayer calibration, rotary hoeing and cultivation, and safe handling of pesticides. This resource will be beneficial to students and professionals alike. An excellent tool to supplement weed-related courses at any university, as well as for crop consultants and anyone else interested in weed identification and management.

Back to Top

Animals

Arthropod Identification
American Museum of Natural History.

Amphibian and Reptile Identification
University of Florida. Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation.

Pest Alert: Giant African Land Snail And Giant South American Snails: Field Recognition (Feb 2010; PDF | 1.22 MB)
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Plant Industry.

Insect Advice from Extension
Pennsylvania State University. College of Agricultural Sciences. Entomology.
Provides fact sheets and identification service information.

Wildlife Damage Inspection Decision Tree
Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management.

Antkey - ID Guide for Introduced Ants
USDA. APHIS. PPQ. Identification Technology Program.
Antkey is a community resource for the identification of invasive, introduced and commonly intercepted ant species from across the globe. Developed through collaboration between USDA's Center for Plant Health Science and Technology (CPHST) and the University of Illinois, Antkey focuses on over 115 ant species that are introduced, invasive or commonly intercepted in the U.S. including Hawaii. Antkey seeks to mitigate the spread of established introduced ants and prevent the incursion of new introductions by providing quarantine personnel, inspectors and conservation biologists with a user-friendly identification tool specifically designed for non-specialists. Antkey is the second in a series of digital ant identification tools specifically designed and developed for non-specialists. The first tool, PIAkey: Pacific Invasive Ant Key was released in 2008.

PIAKey - Invasive Ants of the Pacific Islands
USDA. APHIS. PPQ. Identification Technology Program.
The Pacific Invasive Ant Key (PIAkey) is an illustrated identification guide designed to assist users identify the most common and dangerous invasive ant species threatening the ecosystems, economies and people of the Pacific Island region.

Terrestrial Mollusc Tool
USDA. APHIS. PPQ. Identification Technology Program.
The Terrestrial Mollusc Tool was specifically designed to assist in the identification of adult terrestrial slugs and snails of agricultural importance. The tool also includes species of quarantine significance as well as invasive and contaminant mollusc species commonly intercepted at U.S. ports of entry. This Lucid-based identification tool specifically targets federal, state and other agencies or organizations within the U.S. that are concerned with the detection and identification of molluscs of significance. This tool includes 33 families and 128 species. This resource also includes an interactive identification key, comparison chart, fact sheets, biological and ecological notes, a dissection tutorial, a glossary of commonly used terms, and a list of useful links and references.

Bug Bytes
USDA. Agricultural Research Service.
Includes sound files of various insects (including invasive insects as well as links to pictures or other information about each species).

Insect & Mite Identification Service
USDA. ARS. Systematic Entomology Laboratory.
The Systematic Entomology Laboratory (SEL) routinely provides specimen identification assistance as a free service to both governmental and private entities, including federal research and regulatory agencies, state departments of health and agriculture, university researchers, and private citizens.

Light Brown Apple Moth Screening Aid
Tortricid.net.

Back to Top

Microbes

Aquatic Animal Diseases Significant to Australia: Identification Field Guide, 4th Edition (2012)
Australian Government. Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Produced by: Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry

Citrus Canker: Identification in the Field and in the Laboratory (Mar 2001; PDF | 46 KB)
U.S. Agency for International Development.
Prepared for: U.S. Agency for International Development under AID Contract No. 511-C-00-99-00114-00

Diagnosing Tree Disorders (PDF | 157 KB)
Colorado State University. Extension.

Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic
Cornell University.

Plant Disease Clinic
University of Minnesota. Department of Plant Pathology.

Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic - Sample Collection and Submission
University of Wisconsin-Madison. Department of Plant Pathology.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension Plant Disease Diagnostics Clinic (PDDC) provides assistance in identifying plant diseases and provides educational information on plant diseases and their control.

Common Tree Diseases of British Columbia
Natural Resources Canada. Pacific Forestry Centre.

Diagnostic Keys to Major Tree Fruit Diseases in the Mid-Atlantic Region
West Virginia University - Kearneysville.
"The diagnostic keys for deciduous tree fruit diseases (apple, peach, nectarine, and cherry) were developed to aid field personnel in the identification of diseases that are common to the mid-Atlantic region of the United States."

Back to Top
Last Modified: Aug 23, 2016
 
Bookmark and Share
Resource Library
    Agencies and Organizations
    Databases
    Discussion Groups
    Educational Resources
    Frequently Asked Questions
    Identification Resources
    Image Galleries
    Invasive Species Lists
    Publications
Media Help
 To view PDF files, you must have Adobe® Acrobat® installed on your computer.

To view multimedia files, you must have Adobe® Flash® installed on your computer.

 NISIC Home | NAL Home | USDA | AgNIC | Agricultural Research Service | Web Policies and Important Links | Site Map
FOIA | Accessibility Statement| Privacy Policy | Non-Discrimination Statement | Information Quality | USA.gov | White House