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

Photos of insects and people from the Spring 2021 gathering in Louisiana, April 28-May 2

National Moth Week 2020 photos of insects and people.

Photos of insects and people from the 2019 BugGuide Gathering in Louisiana, July 25-27

Discussion, insects and people from the 2018 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

Welcome page

Most newcomers (and some seasoned contributors, too) are not aware of some valuable Bugguide information or functions buried here and there, such as the glossary or the advanced search. Perhaps we need a welcome page that lists the most useful links. Wikipedia has such a page and newcomers are directed to it. We could do the same.

Useful links


ID request. Instructions on how to post an image.

Dos and Don'ts


Where do I post it?
This may help you when moving a posted images: List of Experts and Supplementary List of Experts (scroll down)

Site map will give you information on: Terms of use, Privacy Policy, Contact, etc.

Forums . You can keep up to date by reading the forums. Also don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially in General Discussion and in Photography.
Looking at the other forums you will realize that you can contribute not just photos but information, corrections, etc.

Summary of Bugguide articles. You will find some of the articles very useful, particularly those in: Bugguide Basics. For instance Frequently Requested IDs, Guide to Critical Images and Guide to Frass.

Glossary. Caution, due to some site constraints navigation is a little tricky (this may change in the future). Read: Hints for use, under Remarks.

In addition to the search at the top of every page there is: Bugguide advanced search.
To find your user number, click on "Your Images" in the upper right of your screen, and then look at the url that appears.

Is there something else I should mention? I welcome suggestions.
For lack of a better place I think that this could serve as an information page for newcomers. I plan to start referring people to it.

Bumping up
Time to move this to the top where, perhaps, it will be more visible to those that need it.

It seems to me that there are two categories: 1) much of the important information is readily available, for example in the Help section, 2) some good information is less accessable in the fluctuating Forums section, particularly within the Articles.

I think the first category can be pretty much left alone.

I don't think renaming is worth doing. As Marty R suggested, it probably wont result in including a higher percentage of visitors into the workings of the site. Meanwhile, we're jerkin' ourselves around trying to accommodate the willful, inattentive and self-absorbed. Help was crystal clear to me; it means help in accessing, interfacing with, BugGuide. If you can find the Forums or ID Request tabs, you can find the Help tab, period. Much of the misuse of the site may be happening on purpose by willful people or some such. How many names would we go through before we finally conclude that "Help" worked the best?

Perhaps a new sentance or two here and/or there can catch a few interested individuals.

The second category is a different matter. Perhaps we might consider having links to these more sophisticated topics on one of the steady-state pages.

(I think the interface with Search could be improved but I'll leave that for another thread/2.0....)


Moving images
We keep giving instructions on how to move your own images again and again. Ironically, there is no page of instructions on how to do this as far as I know. Here are 3 sets of instructions under several images. This should help.

And here is one of those sets of instructions:

1) On your post, just above the thumbnails, you should see a link that says "tag all". Click on that and you will see that all your images for this post are now displayed in a column on the left side of the page.

2) Now, navigate to the spot in the guide that you wish to move the images. In this case, that would be here. Make sure that you are on the "Images" page and are not instead viewing the "Info" page.

3) If you are on the correct page, you should see a link that says "move tagged images" at the top of the page. Click on that, and your tagged images should move from the column on the left side of the page to the correct spot in the guide.
(Harsi S. Parker)

Moving images
There are instructions on the Images page of the Help section. The reason you have to keep giving instructions again and again is that people apparently aren't reading the Help section or maybe they just can't find it.

People don't even read
the instructions on the image submission form, and they appear every single time they upload an image.

That's true
I think that that's partly because it's such fine print.

To get uploaders to look at the help page, I suggest...

- putting something about it on the submission page. Even if it's just "See the help file for instructions on how to move images." The submission page is the *one* place that new uploaders *have* to visit. (Well, that and the confirmation page.) and

- putting it at the top of the submission page, rather than below the image-title blank.

Help- or something else?
With most sites, help sections occupy themselves predominately with how to deal with things that go wrong, like forgetting one's password. BugGuide's help section is much more about how the site works, and what you can do with it.

There needs to be something to let people know that the help section is more like an introduction and how-to course than a mere "something went wrong- what do I do?" help section.

Is this maybe as simple as renaming the "Help" tab to "Getting Started"?

Renaming it "Getting Started" sounds like a good solution. How about "Orientation"?

That help page includes all the necessities (although "Books" is not a real necessity), but how about other things, the niceties such as advanced search, summary of articles, glossary, that I included here? They could be added to that page or there could be a link to this one. Either way these things are useful; I have directed many people to this page and they are glad that I did.

And then all of us, editors, should remember to send people to the "Getting Started" page. I am not alone in forgetting that the instructions for moving pictures were readily available. Each time that we welcome a newcomer we should remember to suggest to them to read that page.

Home page
I forgot to add that there should be a link to this "Getting Started" page on the Homepage.

Re: renaming
"FAQ" is shorter.

When I came to the site and tried to figure out how to work it, a tab called "Lost?" would have fit my needs. However, this label is unduly depressive.

FAQ or Getting Started
I agree that "FAQ" or "Getting started" would let new users know that that's where you can find out how to use the site. "Help" conveys something slightly different to me, too.

Regardless of the name of it, here is some basic info that is not yet included in the Help section, as far as I know.

1. A list of the site's three basic groups of images (Guide, ID Request, and Frass) and what each is.


All images are user-submitted, and users can move their own images. An editor can move any image.

ID Request is the default place to submit images for identification. However, certain images are more likely to be identified if submitted directly to the Guide, which is separate and distinct from ID Request. For guidance on when to request an ID by posting directly to the Guide, see [link to "Where do I post it" article].

All images submitted to ID Request will sooner or later be moved into either Frass or the Guide.

When an image is in the Guide, either because it has been moved there or because it's been submitted there directly, it usually means that the image has been deemed likely to have value as an identification resource, or some other value making it worth retaining on the site. However, sometimes an image is placed in the Guide temporarily, just to improve its own chances of being identified (See "Where do I post it?" article linked above).

Frass is for images that are to be deleted from the site. An image might be placed in Frass because it is unlikely ever to be identified, or because it has been identified but for some reason does not warrant being moved into or retained in the Guide. After 30 days, images in Frass are automatically deleted from the site. Until then, the image owner (or an editor) can move the image back into ID Request or the Guide if he feels it should not have been 'Frassed.'

2. A list of the other top-level tabs (Home, Recent, Forums, and Donate) and a brief explanation of each.

3. A more detailed explanation of the Guide, including a brief explanation of taxonomy, a list of the seven intra-Guide tabs (Taxonomy, Browse, Info, Images, Links, Books, and Data) and a brief explanation of each tab.


The Guide, unlike ID Request and Frass, is divided into thousands of taxonomic groups, or taxa (singular: taxon), organized heirarchically into levels. There are six major taxonomic levels in the Guide. In order from highest, or least specific, to lowest, or most specific, they are: phylum, class, order, family, genus (plural genera) and species. Above or below certain groups (for example, certain families or certain genera) are minor levels, such as tribe, superfamily and infra-order, but they are generally less important than the six major levels.

At the top of every page in the Guide is a breadcrumb-style navigation aid. These breadcrumbs show, in order from highest to lowest, all the taxonomic groups to which the taxon in question belongs. Below the breadcrumbs are seven tabs, covering all of the Guide's information about the taxon in question:

This displays the taxonomic tree from one level below the taxon, all the way up to Arthropoda. All the taxa are links, and clicking any of them takes you to the Taxonomy tab for the clicked taxon.

This displays several representative thumbnail images, if available, for every taxon one level down. For example, the "Browse" tab for a genus will display thumbnails for whatever species of that genus have images in the Guide, since species is one taxonomic level down from genus.

This displays detailed information, if available, about the taxon, such as range, identifying marks, food, flight season, internet references, print references, and other information.

This displays thumbnails of every image in that taxon and below. For example, the "Images" tab for a family will display every image identified to that family, as well as every image identified to genus or species within that family.

[haven't used this so not sure what it's about]

[haven't figured out how this tab relates to specific taxa]

This displays a map of the Guide's coverage area, and below the map a table of states and months, for which the Guide has images of that taxon and below. This data corresponds to the thumbnails under the "Images" tab.


Also, if the Images tab and Data tab were somehow grouped, new users would be better able to recognize the relationship between them, and if the tabs for Guide, ID Request, and Frass were somehow grouped, new users would be better able to recognize that they're the site's three basic groups of images, FWIW.

The renamed section might remain as obscure as the Help. I think on the BG home page there should be a statement in bold red type on the order of:

"New to BugGuide? Please check the Help section for information on how to upload images and other ways to use the site."

All Abuzz About Bugs!
Page should be changed from:
We are an online community of naturalists who enjoy learning about and sharing our observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures.

We enjoy the opportunity to instill in others the fascination and appreciation that we share for the intricate lives of these oft-maligned creatures.

We are an online community of entomologists, students and wannabe entomologists who enjoy killing insects, spiders and other related creatures. See individual bio’s for information on buying, selling or trading insects.

We enjoy the opportunity to instill in other the fascination of “nab, stab and slab”, best killing chemicals, and tips on removing genitalia. See Forums.

Lee Penner
You seem rather knowledgeable. Would you please take a few minutes to add a BRIEF description of your experience, to your account page. This would be very helpful to editors and other contributors. Thank you,

consider adding...
Where Do I Post It? [for those more familiar with arthropod classification]

Finally I included your suggestions. I wonder how many people find these tips useful and how many even know how to find this page.

We would hope that in BugGuide 2.0
information such as this will be found through a FAQ tab on the tab bar. We have our fingers crossed.

In the meantime
Let us keep this page near the top.

ID request and beyond
We could encourage contributors to manage their own images by moving them to species page after the specimen has been identified. Conversely, encourage them to Frass the image when negative comments are posted stating that getting to species is not possible due to quality, angle. etc.
Also, its worth mentioning that many families and some genera have overviews on info pages.

A newbie's input
I think having something like this on the home page is a great idea. I've had trouble navigating. Didn't know what Browse was, wondered how to find the species in a genus, and on and on. There's no comprehensive how-to page.

In response to "Conversely, encourage them to Frass the image when negative comments are posted stating that getting to species is not possible due to quality, angle. etc.": Is the general opinion that an image should be discarded when the species can't be determined? If you keep such images, even if they go only to genus or family, information may come in later from the same person (I might see that gold spider again and get a view of its eyes) or someone else which would help narrow it down. If you throw out such images because they don't match bugguide's existing images well enough for an ID, the underrepresented taxons will stay underrepresented.

And sometimes a family or genus ID is better than nothing.

The problem with making a statement about frassing an image is that it often rubs some contributors the wrong way unless there is an additional clarification. I always appreciate a reason but even if I don’t get one I have no one to blame but myself because more than likely I failed to capture the characteristics that are necessary to get to a proper ID.
There are many factors that influence a decision to frass; Beatriz has provided links in this article. I also consider other factors, for example, after posting an image of what I though to be a Brownbelted Bumble Bee, if I were to receive a comment from John Ascher to the effect that it is a Bombus, I would probably frass it to save the storage, bandwidth and human resources consumed by any further review of an image which failed to show the necessary ID characteristics to an expert. For the same image, if John’s comment said B. griseocollis, I would consider how many of this species are posted from DE, is it the same “view”, is it a candidate for replacement of lesser quality image, etc.
If I were to come across an image of a Bumble Bee from North Dakota and the image contained a brief comment “Bombus” and nothing else from John Ascher, I would save it to its genus page even if it was poor quality because it would be the only image of Bombus from ND. In other words, have more faith in editors/contributors to do the right thing, and I agree with you - sometimes a family or genus ID is better than nothing.

If you "see that gold spider again" it would be better to try and get a full set of images of THAT spider. Say you just got an eye shot of a spider that kind of looks similar to the gold spider, really then we may just have 2 unidentifiable images of what we ASSUME might be the same species. And if you did get a full set of images of the new spider we would then have to reconsider whether we really needed the old set that we still only assume is the same species vs. a set that we really can identify. I’m not saying they should be frassed, just that they may not be identifiable just because you see a similar spider, because many spiders look similar to each other.

Frassable images
Not all images sitting at higher taxa are considered worth frassing; there are cases of images that finally get IDed after several years. He was talking about images so poor that there is no point in keeping them. As for underrepresented taxa, we all agree that a bad image is better than no image at all in such cases; it is the overrepresented taxa that would benefit from a good cleaning.

Expert opinion
I received several tentative IDs which also included comments about waiting for an expert. It took me a while to figure out who the experts are. Lynette Schimming's profile has a good list of experts and I refer to her list to better understand the weight of an opinion given in a comment. Perhaps a link to Lynette's list or something similar on the welcome page would be very helpful to all contributors.


Taxa, tsk, tsk.

ID Request
I agree with the above comments and wanted to add my two cents.

The "do's and don'ts" page encourages contributors to manage their own "ID Request" submissions. It seems like it would be good to also do this in the guidelines at the top of the ID Request "add image" page, as well as on the Images help page.

I think there was a more recent thread about how to have contributors move images out of ID request, but I couldn't find it.

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