BugGuide is a big place, and it's easy to wonder if anyone will ever see your image or question. Posting to the wrong place can, at best, make a bad first impression, and, at worst, mean that the people who could identify your image or answer your ID question might not see it for a long time.
This is intended to be a collection of recommended practices from our regulars and feedback from our experts on where they would prefer to see things posted. Corrections, comment, and additions are encouraged.
•If you don’t have an image, post a topic in the General Discussion Forum asking about it
•If you do have an image, please don’t post a topic in the forums- that’s what ID Request is for. Posting a topic with images from other sites is a particularly bad idea- even sites designed for that like Photobucket or Flickr.
Many experts use the Recent tab to look for images to identify, so they'll see your image no matter where you post it. There are also some experts and other editors who look through ID Request from time to time and move things where they belong. That means ID Request is always a safe bet.
It's true that some experts concentrate on the parts of the guide that they know most about, so there are times it's better to post images there instead of ID Request. Posting to the wrong places in the guide, though, can hide your image from those experts.
Three Simple Rules:
1. When in doubt- post it to ID Request
2. Without breaking the next rule, post things to the lowest (most specific) level where you know it belongs (example: if you’re not sure whether it’s a grasshopper or a cricket, post it to Orthoptera, the lowest level that contains both).
3. Avoid in-between levels. Order, Family, Genus and Species generally get the most attention. There are exceptions (see below), but otherwise, stick to those four.
Exceptions To Order/Family/Genus/Species rule:
Best posted to order if you don’t know the family, but if you’re not certain of the order, just post it to ID Request. Be careful, though: if it doesn’t have a tail with a stinger on the end, it’s not a scorpion. Also be careful about spiders: true spiders have the body divided into two parts, while there are harvestmen, mites and ticks that have only one. When in doubt- post to ID Request.
Other non-insect Arthropods
Best posted to class. If you’re not sure what class it is- post it to ID Request.
Dragonflies (If you know it’s not a damselfly)
Now are in their own order Mantodea
- but you still need to make sure it’s not a Mantidfly
or Water Scorpion
Now are in their own order Blattodea
- but it now includes Termites- Epifamily Isoptera
You can post termites there, but be careful not to mistake Webspinners (Order Embiidina
) for termites.
Make sure you know the difference between beetles and true bugs before you post to Order Coleoptera
. Otherwise- post to ID Request.
Caterpillars should go to
the order page or to ID Request. "Caterpillars" that have only the six legs in front, no legs at all, or too many legs, may be beetle, fly or sawfly larvae. When in doubt, post to ID Request.
Adults should go to
(clubbed antennae)- Papilionoidea
(antennae with no clubs or hooks on the end)- Moths
If the antennae are very long and straight, make sure it’s not a Caddisfly
(or just post it to ID Request).
(antennae with hooks on the end)- Family Hesperiidae
If this seems too complicated- post to Lepidoptera, or to ID Request.
Bees, wasps, ants, etc.
There are so many flies, beetles, moths and other insects that try so hard to pass themselves off as bees and wasps, even experts get fooled sometimes. There are characteristics of the eyes, antennae, wings and abdomen that can be used to tell these apart, but until you know those well, it's best to post anything that looks like a bee or a wasp to ID Request. The same can be said of ants.
If you do have a pretty good idea that you're dealing with the real thing- and not a look-alike- bees should go to Anthophila
, regular wasps should go to Aculeata
, and ants should go to Formicidae
(just be careful that you don't have a velvet ant
). If it has a narrow waist and an ovipositor, post it to parasitic Apocrita
. Otherwise, Hymenoptera or ID Request.