I made some of those entries, and part of the confusion stems from a remark at BugGuide.net that R. flavipes is “the only termite found in northern, cold-winter regions.” This is a mostly correct statement – but according to the article linked to above there are a couple of other species not currently listed in BugGuide that make it up to Maryland and Virginia, for example. So until I saw this article, I was unaware that there were other subterranean termite species occurring in my home base of Maryland. @billhubick @jimbrighton @drkilmer
I’m in the same boat, and all my r. flavipes IDs happened long before the AI was integrated into iNaturalist. The AI may now exacerbate the problem, but it did not start it.
Looking into this further. R. virginicus and R. maltei, the two species that overlap with R. flavipes in the Mid-Atlantic region according to the article, don’t seem to be recognized yet even in iNaturalist taxonomy (nor in BugGuide). So that further explains why there are many species level IDs in iNat, likely based on range, of R. flavipes.
I think it’s important to not use range as the only source unless it is a dramatically different range. Animals do not adhere to man-made borders, virginicus and hageni imo cannot confidently be crossed out because a termite occurs in the thin area that the flavipes range goes further than them.
I do think the other species should be added to Inat, albeit I’m not sure there’s any verifiable observations of them yet, maybe I’ll come across one. Odd that they’re missing from bugguide as well.
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