Identify nature

A man identifying a tree using the Museum app, Leafsnap UK

Have you found a strange bug or a new plant in your garden, or stumbled across an intriguing animal bone or fossil while out on a country walk? Let us help you find out about it.

The dedicated team at the Museum's Identification and Advisory Service can answer your queries about insects, fossils, plants and other wildlife and natural history specimens found in the UK.

You can also use our online tools and resources to identify UK plants and animals, and learn more about them.

Four ways to identify your specimens and sightings

1. Check our selection of ID guides and apps below to see if one is relevant.

2. Email your photos and descriptions to our identification service. Please tell us as much about your specimen as possible, including a detailed description, where and when you saw it, and its approximate size. 
Fossil enquiries:
Life Sciences & Mineralogy enquiries:

3. Post your specimen or photographs to:
Identification and Advisory Service
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 5BD

4. Visit the Centre for UK Biodiversity at the Museum and show your wildlife or geology specimen to a member of our ID team. Drop in between 10.00-12.00 and 14.00-16.00:

  • Monday to Friday (except bank holidays)
  • the first Saturday of the month (or the second Saturday after a bank holiday weekend)

If you need to discuss the best way for us to help with your enquiry, call our Identification and Advisory Service team on +44 (0)20 7942 5045 or email us.

Commercial enquiries

If your business has wildlife identification needs, please contact our commercial service.


Leafsnap UK app

Identify trees with our free iPhone app. It includes leaf recognition technology and high-res images of 156 tree species in Britain.

Fossil Explorer app

Uncover the ancient plant and animal fossils hidden beneath your feet with our free app. Available for iOS and Android devices.

Downloadable ID guides

Common UK plants and animals

Zebra spider

Spiders in your home

Find out about six species of spider that you are likely to spot at home.

Spider ID guide PDF (1.4MB)

Frog, Rana temporaria


Discover more about the frogs, toads and newts found in British ponds.

Amphibians ID guide PDF (367KB)

Bat, Plecotus auritus


Learn the key identifying features of five of Britain's most common bats.

Bats in flight ID guide PDF (1.4MB)

Tree, Gingko biloba


Identify evergreen and deciduous trees with this step-by-step guide.

Tree identification key PDF (2.6MB)

Badger skull

British Mammal Bones

Identify twelve of the most prevalent wild and domestic mammals in the UK.

Beginner's Guide to Identifying British Mammal Bones (33MB)

Common insect pest species in homes

Guides on a number of common insect pest species that can be found in homes and cause damage to food, furniture, clothes and plants.


Ichneumonid wasp, Ichneumon xanthorius


A guide to 38 of Britain's most recognisable ichneumonid wasps.

Beginner's guide to identifying British ichneumonids PDF (7.8MB)

Dark-red helleborine, Epipactis atrorube

Vegetative guide to orchids

An aid to identifying 39 orchid species when they are not in flower.

Beginner's vegetative guide to orchids of the British Isles PDF (8.8MB)

Interactive ID guides

Lichens on twigs

An illustrated interactive guide to more than 60 lichens.

British grasses

A multi-access key to the common families of British grasses, on the Tomorrow's Biodiversity website.


Centre for UK Biodiversity

Develop your natural history skills and interests with the help of our staff, facilities and resources.

Citizen science

Contribute to scientific research at the Museum. Take part in a wildlife survey, collect samples and data, or help us digitise handwritten collection records.