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.


Infographic: network of roles (FDs, educators, diagnosticians)


Awareness: the first line of defense

Infographic: Invasion curve

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 spread increase exponentially and eradication approaches impossibile. 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.


(Move to roles flowchart infographic above) The NPDN's lab network is prepared to assist in the rapid screening of plant pathogens and pests of concern in the event of an exotic plant pest detection. More information about NPDN, including links to our laboratories can be found on the NPDN home page.



Website comments and overall program questions may be directed to Rachel McCarthy, rachel.mccarthy@cornell.edu, Cornell University, Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, or call (607) 255-7871.

For other questions and information, please consult your Regional Training and Education Coordinator:

GPDN, Sharon Dobesh, Kansas State University, Department of Plant Pathology, sdobesh@ksu.edu or call (785) 532-1340

SPDN, Carrie Harmon, University of Florida, Department of Plant Pathology, clharmon@ufl.edu or call (352) 392-1795.

NCPDN, Amy Dunfee, Michigan State University, Department of Plant Pathology, peter199@msu.edu

NEPDN, Rachel McCarthy, Cornell University, Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, rachel.mccarthy@cornell.edu or call (607) 255-7871

WPDN, Richard Hoenisch, NPDN Training and Education Subcommittee Chair, University of California-Davis, Department of Plant Pathology, rwhoenisch@ucdavis.edu or call (530) 754-2255



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


Associated Programs

Protect U.S.Sentinel Plant Network