How to indicate one individual across multiple life stages?

I’ve been able to get pictures of several butterflies at different stages of life (chrysalis and adults, and even one as a caterpillar just before it pupated), so I was wondering if there’s a way or best practice to link the observations for each individual, or to list multiple dates for a single entry.

Of the obvious options, just grouping the observations under the last life stage seems like it would be losing information on timing (e.g. one of them took much longer than usual to emerge), but making separate observations for each life stage seems like it could inflate the apparent population. I could manually write in the ID numbers in the notes but am not sure if that would have any real impact.

I just started, so might be overlooking an obvious option, and would appreciate any suggestions!

See this thread: Using the field “Similar Observation Set” for linking observations of lepidoptera when raising on

Agreed, don’t do this.

That’s not really how iNat data should be used, so this shouldn’t be an issue.


OK, thanks–that’s good to know! Now that I think of it, it does seem like the format would make more sense for a presence/absence approach.

Just to add for the benefit of others – there is also the Multiple Life Stages project for anyone looking to add multiple life stages to a single observation:

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To clarify, this project is intended for observations where multiple life stages are observed at the same time and location (generally within the same photo).

From the project description:

multiple animals of the same species at different stages of life.

(emphasis mine)

A few examples:
An adult bird feeding juveniles or with eggs
An adult insect with nymphs, or nymphs of different instars
Any animal that has already hatched from an egg where other eggs are still unhatched.

This is a different situation than what the OP is describing. You really shouldn’t upload photos from separate days as a single observation (even if they represent the same individual).

Edit: @bsteer I see you added emphasis to your post. Didn’t mean to step on your toes, and I’m clarifying to highlight the difference in the situation to other users since…

would still be…

Didn’t mean to come off as accusatory as if you had been uploading such observations.


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