09 de marzo de 2023


This is a reference for myself but feel free to use it



  • Incomplete reference of sexually dimorphic species: view list
  • Observations for the above species that are missing the Sex annotation: observations | identify
  • (Observations for all species that are missing the Sex annotation: observations | identify )
Posted on 09 de marzo de 2023 by clockwood clockwood

04 de enero de 2023

General iNaturalist Best Practices (WIP)

Don't add annotations unless you are 100% certain about them; it is difficult for others to correct the annotations once incorrect ones have been applied. (Link)

Don't ID dandelions to species level, unless you are aware of the many species that look very similar and know how to distinguish them. (Link)

There is controversy about whether or not it is best practice to add an ID for a subspecies based only on the location of the observation (Link)

Posted on 04 de enero de 2023 by clockwood clockwood | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

06 de diciembre de 2019

WIP - What can an absolute novice do on iNaturalist?

Quick Links:


You can still help out on iNaturalist in many ways, even if you know almost nothing about identifying stuff. Here's a list of ways you can do that. I am going to try and make this as simple as possible for new people to get involved.

Before doing anything else, you're going to need to make and be logged into your iNaturalist account.

I'm giving links to both the Observations page and the Identify page where possible. The Identify page offers more functionality when using a desktop. These links will ignore the "default place," if you've set one, and will display the results in random order. You can change these settings.

1. Add Observations

This is the most obvious one, but I wanted to talk about it a little bit and add a few notes that may be helpful.

All you really need to make observations on iNaturalist is a cell phone with a camera and/or recording app. Other things help, but you don't need them.

Finding Life Forms

You don't need to go far. You can start with the pigeons in the parking lot, or the spider your cat just killed, or the mold on the burrito that you forgot about for months. Here are some general tips:


  • Shine a flashlight along the surface of the ground, a rock, etc. to easily see shadows of bugs on that surface.
  • Leave a light on outside at night and wait for the bugs that are attracted to it.

Recording Life Forms

Sometimes people add photos or audio that are not really very useful for identifying the organism. To make your observations more identifiable, include as many of these factors as possible:

  • Animal signs: environment/surroundings; size; it can be helpful to break scat apart with a stick and see what it contains
  • Plants: the size and shape of the entire plant; leaf shapes, leaf edges, how the leaves connect to the stem; flowers, outside and inside, from multiple angles; what parts of the plant (flower stems? bottoms of the leaves?) are smooth, and what parts have hair; sizes of plant parts; habitat; smell
  • Spiders: eye arrangement; locations and numbers of leg spines; top down shot; bottom up shot, if possible. The most important thing is to get the photos in focus.

Posting Observations

  • If you're using the mobile app, turn off autosync. I don't know anyone who uses or likes it.
  • Your observations are a record of YOUR location, too. Make sure to obscure observations that are at your house or work, and don't post observations with public locations while you're still at that location.
  • Crop your photos. Pleeeeeease.
  • Some people don't like seeing pictures of injured/dead animals when scrolling through their observations. If you're one of those people, you can put a warning for the first photo of your observation, and the warning will show up as the thumbnail rather than the gory image.

2. Add Broad IDs to Unknowns

One way to help is taking observations that don't have any IDs and putting a really basic ID on them, like "Birds." This helps the people who ID birds find it; they aren't looking at the unknowns, they're looking at the birds.

When you add an ID to something, by default, it gets marked as Reviewed. "Reviewed" is just a flag for you to keep track of what you've already looked at. There's a checkbox at the bottom of the observation below the comment box (on desktop) that you can check or un-check. I like to un-check it when I give things IDs like "Birds" because I like to reserve it for things that I have researched as much as possible.


This observation has multiple life forms in it: There is some debate about the best way to handle these observations. What I do is leave a little note that says something like "Welcome to iNaturalist! This observation file has several different species in it. iNaturalist works best with one species per observation file. You may want to consider splitting this into multiple observations." and then mark it as reviewed and move on.

This observation is not a life form (or is captive, etc): You can go to the Data Quality Analysis section and click the thumbs-ups or thumbs-downs to flag the observation correctly. (In Identify, the DQA section is under the tab at the top right; on the Observation page, it's all the way at the bottom of the page; and you get to it through the Mobile app by opening the observation and then tapping "Data Quality".)

I added an ID but it still says Unknown: The poster might have chosen to "opt out of the community taxon," which means it's just going to stay marked as Unknown no matter what ID you put on it. There isn't currently a way to filter out these observations. I'd just mark it as Reviewed (so it doesn't show up every time you're looking for Unknowns to ID) and keep going.

I don't know what this is, but I know that an expert in a specific topic might: You can join a project that relates to that topic and then add the observation to that project.

I have no idea what this is: You can identify it as Life if you want to. I just mark it as Reviewed and move on.

3. Add Annotations

Observations on iNaturalist also have "annotations" attached to them. Annotations are things like the sex of the organism, or whether the plant is flowering. When you open the observation in your browser, it will be the list on the right side of the screen below the community taxon thing (which is below the map). Annotations are useful, but unfortunately, they are underused.

What annotations are available for an observation depends on what the community taxon ID is. Some annotations show up for taxa they aren't supposed to, with no options when you try to pick one. Just ignore those. iNaturalist is a little buggy.

I think it's better to leave annotations for sex and life stage out until the observation gets to Research Grade. Maybe the male X looks like the female Y, or the juvenile A looks like the adult B. When the observation is Research Grade, you're less likely to have such a mistake because it's more certain what species you're looking at.

Add annotations for Life Stage:

Some species have young that look very different from adults. The group where this is most obvious is in insects who go through all the stages of egg-larva-pupa-adult.

  • Observations of holometabolous insects that are missing the Life Stage annotation: observations | identify

Add annotations for Sex:

Some animals have males and females that look different enough that you can tell them apart from photos, and you can add Male or Female. Other species have very similar-looking adults, and you can add Cannot Be Determined.

  • Incomplete reference of sexually dimorphic species: view list
  • Observations for the above species that are missing the Sex annotation: observations | identify
  • (Observations for all species that are missing the Sex annotation: observations | identify )
Posted on 06 de diciembre de 2019 by clockwood clockwood | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

22 de marzo de 2019

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug ID and NY Lookalikes

Outlined from here: https://www.stopbmsb.org/stink-bug-basics/look-alike-insects/

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorpha halys):

  • Smooth front edge of shoulder
  • Round shoulders
  • Margins of abdomen have alternating dark and light bands || || ||
  • White bands on antennae and legs

Brown Stink Bug (Euschistus servus):

  • Pointed shoulders
  • Yellowish bands on antennae

Onespotted Stink Bug (E. variolarius):

  • Sharply pointed shoulders w/ orange tips (like orange thorns)
  • Males have a dark spot on the underside of the abdomen

Dusky Stink Bug (E. tristigmus)

  • Pointed shoulders

Spined Soldier Bug (Podisus maculiventris)

  • Pointed shoulders

Rough Stink Bug (Brochymena sp.)

  • Spines on the front edge of the shoulder
  • The front of the head has two "teeth" |^^/| whereas in BMSB it's more rounded /^^\ (this isn't proportionate, this just is to show the shapes)
Posted on 22 de marzo de 2019 by clockwood clockwood | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

18 de marzo de 2019

New York Frog Calls

Frog species that are found in NY, with links to sound files

Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)
= https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/85165

American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)
= https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/189570

Fowler's Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)
= https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/194226

Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor)
= https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/94975

American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)
= https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/53182

Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans)
= https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/206396

Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog (Lithobates kauffeldi)
= https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/190946

Pickerel Frog (Lithobates palustris)
= https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/207569

Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens)
= https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/216773
= https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/182027

Mink Frog (Lithobates septentrionalis)
= https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/138551

Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus)
= https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/71895

Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)
= https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/218489

Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata)
= https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtHU8xrDxUU

Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata)
= https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYUdvhxNSD8

Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii)
= https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/207809

Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis)
= https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/214877

Posted on 18 de marzo de 2019 by clockwood clockwood | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario