Posts Tagged ‘biodiversity’

What IS this bug?

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

praying mantis leaf insect, Phyllium bioculatumOne of my favorite courses in college was Entomology 500. The gist: Capture a crapload of bugs, mount them on pins, identify them to a species, and finally show to them off for reactions of a) abject horror or b) nerdly squeals of delight.

As much as I’d like to personally identify your mystery bug(s) for you, there’s a better way: The Internet! (What else did you expect?)

Below are some free services to which you can submit creepy crawly bug photos, and a trained expert will respond with their best identification:

  • – A straightforward site where the curious send in their photos, and volunteer bug pros respond in a few days. Not geared for the kill-nothing Buddhist types (i.e. “pest control” in the URL), but they do have a simple setup with nice-sized images.*
  • – More verbose identifications than the previous site, but the concept is the same: email your bugs, get them looked at. One big difference, however, is the “Why you gotta hate on insects?” attitude, as evidenced by the “Unnecessary Carnage” section that scolds bug squashers.
  • University of Minnesota’s insect gallery – If you’re too impatient for a pro’s analysis, this is a convenient self-guided process-of-elimination tool. Trouble is, there’s only a handful of bugs — but to turn it around again, the ones you’d most commonly notice/encounter are listed. A nice start before throwing in the towel.
  • Aardvark – To get a little social media on you, is a great service to answer tough-to-Google questions — like “what is this bug?” This is because living breathing people (including entomologists and other bug experts) are on standby to answer strangers’ questions. You’ll need an instant message program and a means to post your photos publicly, but it’s a near-instant setup.

Speaking of ID’ing animals, it’s time for a few words on species. (more…)