How to annotate life stage/evidence of presence for egg cases?

Observations like consist of only egg cases. Firstly, the current life stage is likely nymph (or even adult), but there is no visible direct evidence of that in the photos (so “Browse photos” pages etc. would be confusing). Conversely, the visible characteristics belong to the egg life stage, but the phenology graphs would be incorrect. Secondly, I have seen evidence of presence set to “molt” or “tracks”, both of which are true in a sense but also not exactly correct. Is the correct option at the moment to not include any annotations? What are your opinions?


I come across this sort of situation a lot when identifying mantises. My strategy and reasoning is to annotate with:

  • Alive or Dead: “Cannot Be Determined”
    – Fairly straightforward and I don’t think anyone would argue with that.

  • Evidence of Presence: Leave blank
    – None of the currently-available options are suitable, although I think moult is closest, at least for empty egg shells like in your link. Track on iNat explicitly refers to an “impression in ground or snow made by an organism”.

  • Life Stage: “Egg”
    – The stage shown in the image is an egg, and for organisms that develop quickly or that have very durable egg cases, it may be impossible to tell whether the organisms that hatched are now nymphs or adults. But the evidence in the photo is evidence of an egg. It’s true it would have some impact on the phenology graph, but so would e.g. a dead insect found well out of its season. To get around this issue, if the eggs are clearly still yet to hatch then I annotate them as ‘alive’, and if you search for observations with both annotations then you can find them pretty easily still.

Keen to hear if others have thoughts on this though, and what everyone else’s strategies are


Yeah I agree, lifestage = egg. Maybe it’s not the most helpful for knowing when eggs are being laid if you can find empty eggs year round, but it is still evidence of an egg and not evidence of a nymph or adult insect.

It’s not dis-similar from finding a skeleton, that dead animal doesn’t tell you much other than X creature was here sometime in the recent past. You couldn’t really determine time of year the animals are present in most cases, just that they have been ‘here’.


I counted an empty eggshell as dead - what I see no longer lives - but will leave that blank in future.

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