Sorry, I Won’t ID Your Bug


I get many, many emails from people.  Some of them want me to identify a cool little insect they saw. I’d love to oblige you all, but there’s just one problem.  (Other than that whole “working for pay/expected to show up daily” thing that really cuts into my blogging time.)

There are >850,000 insect species currently identified. Multiply that by ≈2 billion people with internet access, and you begin to see why I sometimes decline to help you out.

It’s not personal, I just can’t identify a specimen to species without hands-on access to a specimen.  There are a few really obvious insects that I can ID with a photo, but for many insects you need to actually count segments and hairs on all sorts of intimate insect body parts for a definitive ID.

Without a photo, it’s rare I can even guess, since there are an almost infinite number of “small brown beetle-ish things” in the world.

A great place to start if you want to figure out what insect you saw/squashed/photographed if you are in North America is BugGuide, and here’s a Spider Identification Guide.