Captive/cultivated or wild on rearing larvae etc

tried reading some of the discussions on captive/cultivated vs wild but didn’t find a clear guideline how to handle cases like these:

Example 1 : I find a larva (say of a beetle) in the wild and take it home to determine what species it is by rearing it to imago.

I document the larva as found originally. I see no beef here in calling it wild.

Now I shoot photos of the next larval stage, maybe the pupa and the resulting beetle.

These are “captive” now, strictly speaking.
a) Do I add the photos to the old observation to document the development?
b) Do I make separate observations for every next photo shoot, marking these with a new date and tagging theses as Captive/Cultivated?

If (a) how do I notify users/system that some images are of a different stage/date?
If (b) how do I link the whole series of “observations”? And why would the results not merit a “Research grade” due to the “Captive” denominator. If anything, photos of not yet before documented life stages to me would seem especially interesting to researchers (?!?)

After successfully rearing the beetle I go and release it in the wild where I originally found the larva. The next day I go back and guess what - it is still there. Now what is it? Wild? Captive/Cultivated? Escaped? …

Example 2 : Basically the same but with subtle difference. I find a flower head with larvae in it. Instead of taking it home, I apply a rearing bag/cage around the flower head to prevent predators getting to it and to keep the resulting critters in to document these later. I go back on a regular basis to document progress and shoot new images.

So now I didn’t displace the “wild” larvae (not taken home) but arguably they are “captive” even if they’ll never realize it. So do I tag these as “Captive”?!?

And how do I go about documenting the development (same questions as above).

To me it seems a bit silly to have these rearing projects with originally wild animals that are temporarily “captive” for documenting purposes disqualified for scientific usage by tagging them as “Captive”.

What is the common practice for this on iNat?

Thanks for any pointers/help


I think you can check older posts, your eample #1 is common, your first observation in the wild is wild, all others are different and captive, you don’t add them to one observation, but add observation field to them. #2 is more subtle, but as you don’t let predators take it and you decide where it can or cannot move it should count as captive organism.

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To add another case while I’m at it:

This species has only ever been found (so far) inside tropical greenhouses in the Netherlands and Germany. There has never been a “wild” observation/record of it.

Do I tag this as Captive or Wild ?

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Wild, as e.g. barklice in your bathroom.


Thanks Melody,

yes, that is pretty much the semantics of the term “captive”, no argument there.

But as stated - how do I “connect” the various observations to make it clear these belong together in a single “documentation of development” series.
Or put differently: How is anyone going to “Suggest an identification” on the larva if they cannot find the resulting beetle to verify the identification?

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Observation field “similar observation set” and add links in the description of each observation.


Okay, that looks like a lot of work, but I’ll see how it goes.

That leaves one question, or remark really:

How is it not scientifically interesting to have development stages of wild animals documented in captivity? Seems silly to scratch all “Needs ID” or “Research grade” possibilities due to tagging it as “Captive”

Not that I think much of the whole “Research grade” denominator, the way it is organized, but that’s another matter. Why is breeding under controlled circumstances not worthy research?!?

Thanks for your time Melodi_96


Casual status of observations doesn’t make them unusable for science. You’re welcome!

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What I do is put links to the other observations in the notes section. This grasshopper was not captive but it stayed in the same group of plants so I was able to find it again to follow it’s development:

I didn’t know about the similar observation set. Thanks for the tip. :+1:

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Okay, thanks melodi & lappelbaum!

I’ll roll with that …

Still silly that breeding projects wouldn’t warrant a “Needs ID” and hence might never get a community ID, but I don’t think that adds much value anyway ;o)

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Okay, here is how silly/useless this is:

I’ve hacked up this observation into three parts now (as instructed above):

It had the three photo’s added to the one obs. previously, with a statement in the notes about the dates of the mature eggs and hatching.

It is quite tedious to split it all up and set all sorts of links between the observations and imho it doesn’t improve “keeping it all together” much, but okay, I can live with that I suppose if that’s how it’s supposed to be done.

What really bugs me and makes me not ever want to upload such a project again here is this:

These are (to my knowledge) the first ever available images of eggs and first stadium nymphs of this endemic species. A second ID confirmation came in while I still had it set up differently. If I had set it up like this from the start, that might have never happened.

Okay, so now we have a unique set of images, but the system refuses to show them. They are not anywhere to be found when looking for images of this species.

So what’s the point in uploading stuff like this? Might as well leave it be…

The reason? I’m guessing here:

  • All obs/images are tagged as “Captive”
  • 2/3 don’t have a location (what’s the point for a captive, right)

The first one has the location set to where I captured the adult female that deposited the eggs. That is probably “faking” it a little as the eggs were deposited while in captivity some 20km elsewhere.

P.S. Exact same here:
Unique image of the larva of a rare species of ladybird. But can’t be found in the image set for the species … too bad really - pretty useless this way.

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You just filter your search for needs id+rg. No, point for captive is not a lack of location. You can have female as first observation and it shouldn’t be captive.
There’re many unique photos or organisms know only from captivity. You can still add your photos for main page of this taxon or do whatever you do with any other observation info.

Okay, so I would need to create another observation of the just the female “in the wild” in order to legally get a location connected to the eggs via-via by reconfiguring all the links and “Similar obs set” and so on. Great.

(Am I even allowed to add a picture of this female that I took at home as opposed to in the field? Or should I leave that observation without an image?)

I can find my own images, I have them on my PC and don’t need filters on iNat for that. The idea of putting them up on iNat is that these can be found easily by other people that might be interested.

So, I have uploaded them to iNat, split the darn project up into a bunch of “observations”, marked everything neatly as “captive”, but now no one else but me can find them. If I simply take out the “Captive” tag, everyone can find them simply by looking at the photo collection for the species.

Why/how am I supposed to “add my images to the main page of the taxon” if the system doesn’t seem to want them there? If I would even be inclined to find out how I would feel that it would be rather intrusive on my part as a newby to just go ahead and push my images forward in that way if the system obviously doesn’t care for them…

To be clear, melodi, this is not about you - I appreciate your efforts/time very much(!) It’s just that I’m having a hard time comprehending what the logic behind all this is.

You need to calm down a little bit, nothing extremely bad is happening here, you can duplicate the observation you linked and add different annotations for it, one for eggs, one for female, yes, you can use the photo from home for any organism that didn’t change extremely from the moment you caught it (didn’t molt or grew up significantly), for adult insects nothing can stop you.
Everyone can find your photos and now they’re even on the main page of the species, because I added them after my previous comment, I don’t know how system doesn’t want them there, you just switch from rg-only photos to all observations when choosing taxon photos and they’re there.

I’m calm, thank you ;o)

And thanks for manually selecting my photos and curating them into the main photo page.

Please understand that an action like that seems to be a rather intrusive thing to be “allowing” oneself to do just for the purpose of having your own photos displayed (vanity and all that).

If the system chooses not to show these image by default, then who am I to decide and override that? The system must have a reason to choose to do so.

So the point I’m making (I guess) is that IMHO the system is making a bad choice here, merely based on the premise that the images are taken in captivity (initially disqualifying them for that reason).

It’s good to know that one might decide to “push” ones own images in this way, but IMHO it shouldn’t be necessary to do so. That’s all.

Anyway, thanks again for all your time - seriously appreciated!
Cheers, Arp

System doesn’t choose anything, all taxon photos are manually selected, there’s only a few photos for this species and all of adults or older nymphs, so there’s not pushing, it’s a logical decision to add yours!

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I suppose it’s not smart to argue about this as I’m obviously too stupid to understand what’s going on, but if I go to the species page, as a visitor with only half a brain cell, I see a big photo with some choice of thumbnails under it.

I can browse through those photos (initially mine where not in that set and that is fine). The display has an option in the bottom right, saying “view more”, so the brain dead visitor clicks that and sees one (1) other image that was not in the initial set (at the moment there are two as I uploaded the female from the capture location and set her as wild). My “captive” images of eggs were not showing there either.

That’s it. The “system” full perfectly does decide that this is what it wants me to see. It makes a choice there. And it chooses not to show the “captive” images.

Same for Oenopia impustulata:

  • The main set shows one image
  • The “view more” page shows three images, but not my larva (note that “Quality” is set to “Any”

There seem to be no other modifiers on the page that will show me the larva. Heck, I can not even choose “Larva” from the Life stage drop down as the system seems to think there is no image of that.

So how is “the system” not making any choices that prohibit visitors to see the larva image?

But I’m probably just missing something utterly obvious I suppose …

You click on main photo and just click on the right or choose one from the bottom, those are selected photos, not every photo of the taxon on iNat. No, system doesn’t choose it, defalt filter is to needs id+rg, but nothing stop anyone from clicking on it and it will show all observations.

How are they not there if they’re there?

There’s no wild observation of a larva, so yes, though your examples from the main post and actual observations may be different and I don’t know the history of it. But life stage graphics are far from being so widely used to worry about it a lot.

You are sort of correct… iNat is about the WILD/NATURAL world, and you will find that captive/cultivated ANYTHING is somewhat marginalised by the site. This is deliberate, this is fair and on-mission, and it is sort of pointless to be arguing about it.

That said, iNat do allow the presence of captive/cultivated content. It is just BY DEFAULT filtered out. But if there is a photo of a larvae that is being reared and has been marked captive/cultivated that represents an ideal photo to showcase at the forefront of the taxa page, iNat allow you to modify the filters to what is selectable so that you can add it. How is that a problem?

Vanity is not really an issue. If it is the only good photo, then regardless of whos photo it is it can and should be put up as a taxon photo (Intellectual Property Rights not withstanding)

And just a heads up, this is getting somewhat off-topic…

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