How to export a list of species of a particular taxon observed in a custom area?

Hi all! I have scoured the forums and tried a few of the solutions presented to others for similar questions (eg here, here, here, here, here), but none of them have worked for my particular situation so I’m hoping I might be able to get an answer from someone here (even if it’s “you can’t”).

As many know, I’m currently working on the Peterson (now with Princeton!) Field Guide to Moths of Western North America. I want to check my existing species list for the book against what’s been reported to iNaturalist as a way to identify the most commonly encountered species in the book’s area of coverage and make sure I’ve included everything (or as much as I can). I’ve got a custom area defined and I’ve been going through the Explore page genus by genus to check observation count for each species returned. I got a few dozen in and thought, there has got to be a more efficient way of doing this!

What I would love to be able to get is essentially the list that’s displayed when you click on the “Species” view of the Explore page search results. Species name and observation count for all the Lepidoptera species reported in the custom boundary (obviously I don’t need butterflies, but they’re a pain to exclude taxonomically so I’ll just do it later with the data). However, I’m fine with just getting the individual observation data, plugging it into Excel and doing a pivot table to create the same data summary, or any other sort of Excel data manipulation that will produce same - I’m fairly comfortable with Excel. Once I have that, I was going to take the list of species names with an observation count above X and do a cross-reference check formula (LOOKUP) between spreadsheets.

To that end, things I’ve tried:

  • Export from the filter button - too many observations
  • Custom export from the export page - too many observations for Leps as a whole, so I’ll need to go probably Order by Order - doable, but clunky and time-consuming and uses a lot of iNat resources to export
  • Copy & paste the Explore page results text - one forum help thread suggested doing this and pasting into word and then replacing line breaks with commas to be able to turn it into CSV data for Excel, which was an excellent, easy and simple solution… except the Explore page only returns 500 species and I need like the top 2000
  • API return for the Explore query - same as above, I was going to take the text returned and just replace key bits to turn it into something I could CSV in Excel, but it gave me even fewer species than the Explore page. I’ll be honest, I don’t understand API, so I was mostly just trying to follow the instructions in this forum thread

For reference, I want a list of the 6,477 species with their observation counts as displayed on this Explore results page:

Thanks so much in advance! Any advice or suggestions for solutions would be much appreciated!

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To exclude butterflies (Papilonoidea, I suppose?) you can add &without_taxon_id=47224 to your query. Also, I think, you can split your request to several chanks, for example download all Noctuoidea, Geometroidea and Pyraloidea, and next add &without_taxon_id=47224,49682,49531,47607 to select other orders.

You can use my tool to get all species of the project, with id of the project: lepidoptera-of-the-world, Taxon: Lepidoptera and custom params: nelat=52.86690559530587&nelng=-100.47729419922366&swlat=30.99328753352291&swlng=-129.06371998047368&without_taxon_id=47224

Sorry for Russian interface on the screenshot, you can switch it to English.

I’ve tried and got a list of 5839 species. I can send csv file to you, if you send me an email address :-)


This is PERFECT. Thank you so much for sharing!! I was able to output the results from the tool using the parameters you indicated, and confirmed the list matches what I was looking at from the Explore page, which is great. This will speed things up immensely. I love how much the naturalist community has embraced iNat, building additional tools and using iNat to develop or manage large observational projects. Thanks again for your help!


Are you saying that the series has changed publishers? Not Houghton Mifflin anymore?

I am still waiting for them to fill in the last gap in the wildflower guides: Southeastern United States.

Yep, Houghton Mifflin no longer owns the Peterson books. In spring 2021 HMH sold their trade book division to HarperCollins with the intention of putting more focus into their educational/school resource division. The sale included basically all of their mainstream fiction and nonfiction books, including the whole field guide branch with both the Kaufman and Peterson series.

All Peterson titles that were under contract at the time of HMH’s sale were acquired by Princeton University Press. I think PUP was going to try to get the Peterson backlist too, but for now it sits with HarperCollins. I’m not sure what happened with the Kaufman series.

I’ve had a chat with the new editor at PUP though and think the Western Moths guide actually came out ahead for the move. Plans are for a slightly larger format and better binding, among other things. I’m looking forward to it all coming together!

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Glad to help you)
I’m open for requests, if you have any ideas for the tool.

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it looks like @jwidness added an export function to, presumably in response to this thread (and maybe other discussions n the past).

the change means that that page now would be another tool that could be used to export basically what you see in the species tab in the Explore page (up to the first 10000 leaf taxa for now).

going to the URL below and clicking on the export option would basically get the results noted in the link in the original post in this thread:


Oh, cool! This is really helpful too, I was just thinking I’d like to do a query with some different criteria and that page looks like it’d work really well. I’ll have some fun playing with that tool. Thanks so much, @pisum! I’m glad I returned to this thread; for some reason I didn’t get an email notification for this answer.

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