The increasing volume of insect photo observations shared on iNaturalist and similar sites can no longer be ignored, and entomologists are finding ways to use it. A review in Annals of the Entomological Society of America digs into best practices for bolstering entomological research with this growing body of citizen-science data.
A trio of entomologists at the Illinois Natural History Survey tackled a backlog of hover fly specimens dating back a century, digitized them, and combined them with online databases—leading to several new species records, changes to species ranges, and even discoveries of new areas of conservation concern for hover flies in the state.
With the continuing growth of community-driven, digital nature observations on platforms like iNaturalist, entomologists and other scientists are tapping into that store of knowledge to make new discoveries. A new study shows the potential for photo observations to answer species-specific behavior and ecological questions.
Meet Cryptocteniza kawtak, a newly described genus and species of trapdoor spider that likely dates to the Cretaceous. The researcher who found it first spotted it in 1997 but was finally able to enter it in the scientific record after finding another specimen two decades later.