Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Fall Fund Drive

COMPLETE: Page Creation Tips

Intended for editors as an aid in creating pages for photos of bugs that have been identified. The overall goal is to increase BugGuide's usefulness as a resource and reduce the potential for errors on the site.

1. Search BugGuide
Look up the common and scientific names (the specific epithet and the genus, separately) using BugGuide's Search feature; there might be an existing page that lists the name as a synonym, or includes it as an alternate spelling/misspelling. This should help to prevent the creation of duplicate pages.

2. Check standard lists
For insects in general, check the Nearctica list, and for spiders, check Spiders of North America - which also has a link to other arachnid orders; these lists are not entirely correct or up to date, but they're good starting points. Also see specific lists that BugGuide members have agreed to use as taxonomic references for moths and odonates; these lists supersede the Nearctica list. Regional and local lists are also worth checking, but be aware that many museum and university lists of "holdings" do not indicate whether specimens were collected locally, and therefore cannot be used as proof of occurrence in that locality. [Ctrl+F is the keyboard shortcut for finding a name within a page.] Also check any print references on hand. These checks should help to prevent the creation of pages for bugs whose identification is questionable due to geographic location and/or potential similarity to other related species that have no description/photos available.

3. Gather Internet references
Open a new browser window [Ctrl+N] - or new tab [Ctrl+T] if you prefer - and search Google. Do a text search as well as an image search. PDF docs can contain info & images not found elsewhere, so they're worth investigating. Procedures vary according to preference: some users might prefer to right-click Google's links and select New Window or New Tab on the pop-up menu; others might prefer to click links directly, and if the page contains useful info or images, copy [Ctrl+C] its URL in the Address bar, then switch to another browser window or tab, and paste [Ctrl+V]. "Piling up pages" in this way keeps them available for cross-referencing later.

4. Scan for information
Make a note of the particular bug's taxonomic hierarchy, as you'll need to know this in the next step. In the course of scanning through the pages you've found, you might discover changes or variations in the bug's name, classification, distribution etc. You might even find a similar species that is a better match for the bug you're dealing with, and if so, repeat Steps 1 to 3 above.

5. Create a place for the taxon
In other words, make a new BugGuide page.

6. Summarize
Information found on web pages is often verbose and/or buried among unrelated info, so select the main points, condense the wording if necessary, and insert into the appropriate categories on the Info page. Don't link to text that gives basic info; if the link breaks, we're left with nothing. Besides, BugGuide was designed as a "one-stop bug shop" that combines photos with information, so it's self-defeating to send visitors elsewhere to read the basics. Give visitors what they need, right here, right now.
(a) Identification - The most useful information to add to any page is a text description of the bug in question: its color, markings, shape, distinctive anatomy or behavior etc. - anything that can help people to identify it. Also note common variations, color forms, or sexually dimorphic features if applicable. A photo by itself doesn't indicate what to look for; visitors must be told what to focus on. [Size is currently a separate BugGuide category, but could be considered as part of Identification, so fill it in if possible, stating what part(s) of the body each measurement applies to, and which life stage or sex, if applicable]
(b) Range - Known ranges can be described fairly accurately by giving the "4-corner" boundary states/provinces (example: Maryland to Florida, west to Texas, north to Nebraska), or by excluding a smaller area from a larger one (example: all of North America except southeastern states). This info can be useful in either ruling out or supporting identification of a species.
(c) See Also - Describe the characteristics that distinguish similar taxa from the current taxon. If you didn't find out (back in Steps 2 to 4) what those taxa are, and/or whether those characteristics are distinctive, then you can't be certain of your bug's identity. Search for more information; when you find it, tell people what to focus on.
(d) Internet References - Links to images/descriptions at reputable sites can be useful in verifying identification. If no Internet images are found, give the name of the person who identified the bug, and create a link to the BugGuide image that was used in identification. If pages that you link to contain something other than (or in addition to) images, list the included topics so that visitors know what to expect beforehand and are able to choose which site(s) to visit. Don't link to a page that requires further navigation; always link directly to the appropriate page. It's true that deep links are more apt to break, but that risk is preferable to deliberately sending people to a page of links.
(e) Other common names - Good to know for reasons given in Step 1 above.
(f) Pronunciation - I often butcher pronunciation of scientific names I've only seen in print, so completion of this category would be much appreciated (by me at least)
(g) Synonyms and other taxonomic changes - Important for reasons given in Step 1 above, and to help visitors find the name they're looking for.
(h) Explanation of Names - example, erythrocephalus: from the Greek "erythros" (red) + "kephale" (head). Knowing the meaning of a bug's name can often help people remember the bug.
(i) Counts - Citing the total number of species/genera known to occur in a particular area can help to indicate how many other taxa might have to be considered before making future IDs.
(j) Habitat - May be useful in either ruling out or supporting identification of a habitat-restricted species, and helpful in teaching people where to look for a particular bug.
(k) Season - Same as above, except related to season
(l) Food - Same as above, except related to food; also potentially useful to anyone interested in rearing bugs
(m) Life Cycle - Desirable to include for the sake of completeness. Descriptions of unusual mating behaviors, parasitoid life cycles, symbiotic relationships, etc. can make interesting reading
(n) Remarks - A catch-all "beyond the basics" category for a bug's predators, parasites, parasitoids, diseases, behavior, economic importance, effect on human health, control methods, etc. These are research-intensive topics that can be fascinating to bug enthusiasts, and a bonus when added to BugGuide.
(o) Print References - Can be useful in verifying identification and providing further info to those who have the reference (or have access to a library that has it)

7. Proofread
BugGuide has no spelling or grammar checker yet, so re-reading the page before submitting it is worthwhile. An errorless page is more "professional looking" than one with spelling mistakes or typos.

8. Housekeep
Return to the Taxonomy tab and use the Reorder feature (if necessary) to alphabetize the names of species and/or genera. Taxa having a rank higher than genus might already be placed in taxonomic order (example: beetle families), so unless you know where your taxon fits into the hierarchy, it's safer to leave the higher-level lists unchanged. Alphabetized lists are more convenient to scan through, and may help to prevent the creation of duplicate pages (with different spellings) for taxa that are already listed.

9. Comment
If you relocate an image to the new page, say where you moved the image from, and where you moved it to. The owner of an image may have identified it to a certain taxonomic level, and might appreciate being reminded of what that level was. Other people may also find it useful to know an image's "travel history", especially if the image happens to get moved again. In your comment, either explain your reason(s) for moving the image, or insert a link to the new Info page that you've created; justification for moving an image should be self-evident on a page whose Main Categories have been completed in Step 6 above.

Author information in taxonomy field
Again, great article. I have a suggestion for (g):
(g) Synonyms and other taxonomic changes - Important for reasons given in Step 1 above, and to help visitors find the name they're looking for.
A good, though optional, thing to have in the taxonomy field is (for species) the full binomial with author information. This helps in searching, as others mentioned, and it helps clarify exactly which species is being described, in case of confusion. (Author information is also useful for genera in many cases.) Below the full taxon listing can be important synonyms, say, in a bullet list. A simple example here: Pselliopus cinctus, is listed as:

Pselliopus cinctus (Fabricius, 1776)
*(synonyms listed below, if any present, though none in this example--in guide pages, bullets can be generated with a line break followed by a "+", though this does not work on forums)

Fabricius is listed in parentheses because the species was originally placed under a different genus--this information, however, is not always readily available, though it is given by Nearctica and usually by ITIS and other sources.
In that example, I have added a link to the Wikipedia article for Fabricius. This is an optional thing I like to add because I am interested in entomologists. There are articles for most important entomologists on Wikipedia, and there are a few other on-line sources for biographies.

I think this has been discussed elsewhere, but it seems it should be noted here as well.

"Check standard lists"
Item #2 should be modified, in light of Nomina Nearctica going offline tomorrow. A link to this page would be great.

Beetle link -
under item #2 is broken, at least today...

That's the folks
at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. They're apparently rearranging their site, as the two blue links on this page don't work either:

I'll wait a few days to see whether things get sorted out.

Google books too
Search Google books ( as well as ordinary google. Many original species descriptions are scanned and searchable online. "Preview" books have limited viewing and missing pages. (The publisher wants you to buy the paper version.) Most books from before 1920 are out of copyright and fully readable.

You can link to a page within a book like this:

This is page 368 (pg=PA368) of book Of0WAAAAYAAJ (id=Of0WAAAAYAAJ), where the original description of Trichodes orestrus from 1910 can be found. The query fields other than "id" and "pg" can be stripped out of the URL.

This will be a great help when I start working on...
...Oecanthinae pages. It's my goal for November....when all the Wisconsin species of Oecanthinae have completed mating and oviposited their eggs!

Such a valuable article!
It is time to bring it to the forefront. I wonder how many new editors know about this article. Each day I see more blank pages being created. It is true that in some cases there is nothing in Internet, but I know that sometimes the creator of the page has access to keys and other literature and it would be important that some of that info is included with the new page. In other instances the comment by the IDer is worth copying and adding to the info page. I have done that sometimes and it was very fortunate because in one occasion the image was deleted later on. Who knows how many valuable comments we lose that way!

Everybody should read this paragraph " If no Internet images are found, give the name of the person who identified the bug, and create a link to the BugGuide image that was used in identification."

Also, if you are not an editor and happen to read this page, you can help too. That is what the Guide Page Improvements forum is for. Thanks.

thanks for creating this. I use it often. Can you include that we use All-Leps for Leps and American Beetles for beetles? Those are the only two exceptions that I know of to using Nearctica. I got those two additional sites from this discussion. Thanks.

Lynette and Tony. I've added those links to #2 above.

Also for Robin
seem to have been general agreement NOT to use Nearctica for Odonates
see here but to use DSA list

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