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

Upcoming Events

Discussion, insects and people from the 2018 BugGuide Gathering in Virginia, July 27-29

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Photos of insects and people from the 2012 gathering in Alabama

Photos of insects and people from the 2011 gathering in Iowa

Photos from the 2010 Workshop in Grinnell, Iowa

Photos from the 2009 gathering in Washington


Well, I'm down to some of the more difficult folders. I have 17 folders of beetles (mostly narrowed down to at least family), 8 folders of flies (kind of a mess), 6 folders of moths....really a mess..only organized by the shape of the moth, and 5 folders of true bugs (mostly ID'd). I'm not sure I'm going to get through these before the bug season starts again! So, am I being a real pest (ha ha) posting so many photos? Any helpful tips?

One More question I get my ID, but my photo's not great and the guide doesn't need any more of that species...what should I do with it? Move to frass...delete...add to species page anyway(that's what I've been doing)?

My opinion
Admittedly, my vision for this site has changed over the past year. I initially thought it would be more of a showcase for insect and spider photography with a fringe benefit of providing some natural history information.

Over the past year it has become clear to me that the site will be much more useful as a sort of virtual collection. A collection like in a museum, except we have photos instead of specimens. We can't collect as much data, but we have reasonably good data on place and time. As we gradually collect photos, the collection will become more valuable as we are able to see where and when various things occur.

With that in mind, any photo that's good enough to identify the species has some value. Even photos for the same place and time as ones already there are useful, because the number of photos probably indicates how common something may be (or at least how commonly found something is). The more photos we have of something common the more likely it will randomly appear in browse, which is desirable.

Here's my suggestions:

If the photo is good and we know the species, that's the best kind for the guide.

If the photo is bad and we can't be sure about what it is, that's frass.

If the photo is good enough to identify the species, I would lean towards keeping it, but use your own judgement. If you do move it to the guide, edit the photo and uncheck 'representative'. Only representative photos will appear in 'info' and 'browse'. All photos are visible in images, though.

Appropriately marking each image as representative goes a long way towards ensuring that the best photos appear in browse/info. Eventually perhaps there will be many representative photos even for particular species. In that case, we can pick the very best ones that illustrate the species and explicitly assign those to the guide page.

Thanks for the help, again. I don't think I have the option to uncheck representative...I've looked and can't find it.

Right you are
I only reveal that for editors. Mostly that's just because most people probably wouldn't understand what it's there for. I'll think about what I can do about that.

The way I see BugGuide
is as a virtual museum. So how many photos are needed for each species? Just as many excellent ones that show all the characters needed for identification. What would be more useful than duplicate or mediocre images (mediocre in the sense that although they may be great images with great composition, they do nothing more to help characterize a species) is more Info for a species. As an example, I chose the fly family Syrphidae as there have been a few photos of syrphids posted lately. Toxomerus marginatus has 8 images, 1 of which, #10916, seems to show all that is needed for id purposes. The others might be considered excellent photos but don't add anything to the excellent #10916. Actually, they show that the species occurs in, at least, Minnessota, Maine, and North Carolina, #10916 is from Virginia. However, T.m. ranges from Quebec to British Columbia, s to California and Florida; and also in Central America. Thus an image from Georgia would tell us what? But if I had a photo from New Brunswick that WOULD be earth-shattering. So, more Info on a species rather than more duplicate images; and of course, more images of species not previously illustrated.

Best of both
I think we can meet both visions. I would say the museum side of things are the images you see in browse and info. The behind the scenes collection is what you see in images. We want to pick the most exemplary images, the representative ones, and display those in info and browse.

I don't want people to have to give too much thought about what to do with something. It just might be too tedious to go looking and deciding whether a particular image offers new value. Someone working on a particular guide page, however, probably should look at all the available images to decide what should be representative (and don't forget to include all life stages).

Imagine a new tab for the guide pages called 'collection' or something like that. Clicking on that will show a map filled in for all the places for which we have images for the thing in question. Further, there could be histograms for what months it's been found, even discriminating for immatures and adults. I think that has value.

The only reasons I can think not to keep these other images would be for server space (not an issue) or because they dilute the good images. I think the last one is answerable by the representative system we already have in place.

but it is not a bad idea to make people think, probably the best way to learn. I bet that in the long run, thinking about an image will give the artist a better understanding of both entomology and photography than if they just submitted another bug photo.
I love the idea of a new tab for "type specimens" and also that of a map (so glad you suggested both as you will have to spend the time writing the programs!). A map allowing for the range of a species in NA to be lightly shaded (when knowledge is available) and then to have darker shading for the states, and provinces, from where you have voucher photos will be most useful. Histograms are really only useful for quantitative data; a simple listing of months is all that is needed.

I encourage everyone to do their best to identify their specimens before posting here. That's the best way to learn.

The mapping work is actually already in progress by Mike Boone, one of our contributing editors. Initially it will just show the locations of our photos, sort of like what you see at the USGS site (example), but only for states/provinces.

I've been thinking about making the maps just part of the various ways we can analyze the data from the collection. The histogram idea was just one, based on what I see in some books, like Glassberg's Butterflies through Binoculars.

Here's some other random examples for why the other photos might be useful. The multiple photos might point out regional variations. For some things (e.g. caterpillars) we might capture in photographs the range of foodplants. For mating photos, we might document when mating occurs and perhaps shed new light on sexual dimorphism. We might document unusual behaviors. I'm sure we could think of lots of other reasons that photos are valuable beyond their identification value.

same struggle
We've had the same struggle. One additional question is not only does the guide have your species, but does it have an image from North Carolina? While we would hope to replace our images with better ones down the line, if we have the only image from Illinois, we tend to leave it provided it is reasonably focused and might help with future IDs. But we do figure it is our job to move our images to frass if that's where they really belong. It will be interesting to see what others say on this.

All helpful comments. I am going to try to spread a little more... It's just that I lose track of where I am if I don't do it all at once. I guess I'll just start a little running list next to the computer. How does five a day sound?

Your choice! ;-)
With spreading I was not so much talking about the number of images but more about the groups dealt with. But still, if you do a few every day, we can enjoy helping you out even longer. Maybe even until the flood of images from the coming season hits us. :-)


Okie Dokie
I think I am catching on. I also think I have enough photos to last well into bug season....but maybe a lot are duplicates(same bug different pose)...especially since bug season is already starting here. I already took some fly, cranefly, spider, and assassin bug photos. I think I'll try to do five in every section I have left per day. Beetles, flies, moths.

Maybe spread it around a little...
Probably less useful for you, because I can image you would like to deal with your folders one by one, but for us as an audience it would be nice to see something of everything every day (at least, that is my opinion). I must say I almost dread the day you start with the Diptera folders: it will keep me behind the computer for hours, trying to view all the images and (hopefully) provide some useful comments. A few every day would be much nicer (imho).

Still, I enjoy all the images. I wish I had the time and skill to compose such a nice collection!


Some other thoughts
To address one of your questions, no you're not being a pest. We're lucky to have people with the time and interest level you're exhibiting.

It's clear to me that you want to learn more. I would suggest getting your hands on some resources and try to take things as far as you can on your own. You will learn either way, as hopefully we'll be able to offer guidance when you post things.

I think lately you've probably posted much more than the few people here who can help have time for. I certainly haven't been able to take the time to look at each one carefully. I tend to just give people a general direction and let them do the digging. I just can't find the time to dig myself. Sometimes though, I see something so interesting I just can't resist :).

Warmer months approach!

Probably my fault
I had suggested to Lynette that she put things in ID Request that she was unsure of rather than putting them in the guide. I didn't realize there would be so many :).

I would definitely agree that if you are reasonably certain about the id or reasonably certain no further progress can be made, go ahead and put them in the guide.

If you're looking for further guidance, I think ID Request is the way to go. If there's no action on it after awhile, then perhaps it's time to give up and move into the guide. I must admit I just look at recent and don't peruse ID request much. I know I should, but I currently stay more focused on improving the mechanics of the site rather than the content. Eventually I'll get past that.

As I've mentioned before, it's a difficult balance. I'm open to suggestions on "etiquette" here. I'd like to create a help page that covers stuff like this. Maybe regular contributors are best served by just going to the guide as they've probably made pretty good efforts already. Then it's just the occasional visitor who really benefits from ID request.

Comments on your photos
Great sets of photos--I'm enjoying the variety and quality of your submissions. I can only second Richard's suggestion that you go ahead and post at the level you know (hymenoptera for instance). ID Request can get overwhelmed when there are a lot of submissions. Most of us just look through "Recent" anyway.

Patrick Coin
Durham, North Carolina

I am amazed at the variety of insects you have been able to find and photograph just in the past year! Great stuff! My only recommendation is that if you are pretty certain of the family/genus, you can go ahead and post the image in the appropriate family/genus level guide page rather than the ID request section. This is mostly for organizational purposes.

Comment viewing options
Select your preferred way to display the comments and click 'Save settings' to activate your changes.