Bug Zapper observations

I’ve just noticed that the tray of a UV light bug zapper contains many sub-millimeter size species of mosquitoes, flies, beetle-like things, etc.
I’m wondering if it’s worthwhile trying to photograph them as observations, since I’m no extreme close-up photography expert. Will the iNat computer vision recognize the magnified view of a micro mosquito as different from a 5 mm mosquito?
Who are our micro insect specialists?

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The size isn’t relevant, it depends on what species the AI has been trained on (which relies on research grade observations/IDs of the relevant species) and if there are characteristic features that the AI can learn.

Take the photos and go for it.

For mosquitoes this project is a good one:

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I don’t see why they aren’t valid as observations. Just make sure your magnification is such that at least the details can be seen.

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Agree! @earthknight’s point on AI is correct, but I should tack on that the AI doesn’t really matter all that much. There are a number of great professional/amateur entomologists on here that would probably be more helpful. With things so small it may be difficult to get down to more than genus, but still interesting to know and useful data to collect!

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I don’t have the proper equipment for such photography. I’d like to see observations of miniscule insects, preferably alongside a scale object.

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I suspect the micro mosquito looking insects are not mosquitoes, but some kinds of flies or butterflies.
My snapon macro lens does not even allow the camera with a tripod to be positioned close enough to the microinsect.

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If they’re really tiny, those are likely sciarids of some kind which are commonly close to mm size, with all micro-diptera you should be ready to never get a species or even higher id without microscopy, for many bigger nematocera like chironomids regular photos are ok to id subfamily if wing venation is seen. So, those are for sure valid observations you should add if those are insects you want to id! Especially as you’re not sure what they are. But likely they will add some more to forever needs id pool, so maybe uploading all of them from there won’t add much info.

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It’s what you said, microscopy, is something I can’t do. I’m more of a plant searcher. I’ve noticed that macro shots of tiny structures of mosses in the wild are already borderline discernible, so the details of wing venation and mouth parts are like space age for me.

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You can actually do fairly decent with a cheap phone clip-on microscope.
Not great, but decent, like this podagrion wasp (3-4 mm):
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/10585138
The first & last pics were taken with my phone, all the others were with the microscope clipped to my phone.

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Also, there are bug collection jars with magnifiers in the lid.
I used one of those for another, equally tiny podagrion: again, it’s not great, but it did well enough to show some of the distinctive features (femur shape, antennae shape, etc).

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Yes, those are good closeups. Did you also use a tripod to stabilize the focusing?

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I will agree with the above advice - they are valid observations, but as @Marina_Gorbunova says, do not expect a species ID. Many of these smaller insects are not well studied, and may need dissection to go to species level (if they are even that minutely documented). I don’t know if macro- photography would help. A standard camera, with macro extensions may help. Or, you could collect them, or some, and photograph them later. Night is a tricky time to take photos, daytime less so. Wing veins and details like antennae and leg shapes are important for some groups.
It may also be interesting to include some type of record (daily journal?) as to numbers of the insects to track populations over time. Not necessary, but could be fun (says the insect guy).

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No, but I propped my elbows on a horizontal surface and held my breath. :laughing:
I keep debating making a cheap (like $5?) tripod will be my next spurge.

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Carson makes a variety of hand-held field microscopes that have phone clips on them, effectively turning your phone into a microscope (there are other manufacturers that make these too):

There is also a wide array of digital pocket microscopes, some connecting to the phone via a cable, others via bluetooth or wifi.

Note that I’m not recommending any specific models as there re a lot of them out there at varying price points (some really cheap and others very expensive). The links are just to give an idea of what’s out there.

I’ve also had good results simply putting a hand lens over the camera lens and using it a bit like a clip-on.

The issue I’ve been having recently with all the clip-on and hand lens options is that they work well for a camera with a single lens, but not so well for cameras with more than one lens (which is increasingly the norm) as the camera gets confused and keeps switching between lenses. One way around this is to install an app that lets you lock the camera into using a specific lens, but that’s kind of annoying.

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If you are any kind of a do-it-yourselfer, you can make yourself a scope for your phone from an old laser pointer lens. It is not perfect but I was using it today to get some close-ups of Rhododendron anthers for a casual observation that was connected to a bee observation.


https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/118294157
I was mentioning it before in this post: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/life-hacks-for-naturalists/4636/131

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Very thorough!
This green material, is it playdough? It’s sufficiently adhesive and non-reflecting, right?

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Yes, the journal idea would be good, with its own post category. I wonder if it would be interesting to also include an overhead photo of the bug zapper tray (10x20cm) with my own non-scientific labels of the zapped.

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Yes, playdough. I borrowed some of the mixed colour scraps from the grand-friend’s playroom - in amongst the lego and dinosaurs.

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Update on the floor-based bugzapper: very small ants have started showing up and stealing the millimeter-sized kill.

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One idea, I use a 7x or 14x hand lens (the Bausch and Lomb Hastings triplet about $40) and just rubber band it over the lens, comes up with some pretty cool pictures for modest investment.

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