In Memoriam: Ian Toal (@mamestraconfigurata)

I am in tears.
We never interacted on iNat, nor did i know his real name - but for me he was one of the good souls of this forum.

A curious, open-minded, tolerant, respectful and warm-hearted person.
I will miss him.


This nice original post from Ian Toal seems almost like a “passing of the torch” in retrospect:

Edit: I just noticed he actually used the phrase.


Deepest Condolences to Ians family and friends
He was a cherished member


This is heartbreaking news. I knew him mostly through our interactions on the forums, and found him to be one of the most genuine and compassionate people I’ve encountered. His presence and his expertise will be sorely missed.


My condolences to those who knew him.


This is such sad news. What a loss to the iNat community and the world at large.


Sincerest condolences, he will be missed.


I was away on a road trip when we lost Ian and I’m only now catching up to this sad news. When I think of Ian, his positivity and friendliness are the qualities that come to mind. He was a bright light…which seems somehow an appropriate characterization for someone interested in moths. He and the likes of my late pal Greg Lasley both serve as good roll models for personal interactions and communication, on a platform like iNaturalist and in the outside world.


I am so sad. I learned a lot about moths from him and really enjoyed my interactions with Ian, on this forum, IDing observations, and direct messaging. He was a model of patience and generosity with a warm sense of humour. I’m not a social media person, in large part because of its tendency to nastiness. Ian was proof that there is another way and I’m glad to have known him, however briefly and however virtually. My heart goes out to Barb and his kids and grandkids.


I am deeply, deeply saddened to hear of his passing. It was Ian who wrote:
“iNat has given me a ‘job’ that takes me back to my roots, so to speak … For me, iNat (and this forum) has been a life saver.”

So thank you to iNat for enriching his life, and thank you Ian for enriching all of ours.

My deepest sympathy goes out to his family. I can picture all the times you’ve told him to come photograph it then get it OUTSIDE. He’ll be watching, you know, to make sure you don’t kill it:) Please know that the iNat family will be thinking of you and yours.

May you be comforted.


Remembering Ian Toal–

Ian helped me many times with moth IDs on iNat, often with explanations, and often with links to great references that I continue to use and share with other people. He was humble and kind, letting me know if he didn’t feel he knew a group well. Sometimes he tagged others who might help, helping me learn to use this tool as well.

I learned soooo much from my iNat conversations with Ian. When he wondered out loud on a forum whether he spent too much time explaining his IDs/corrections to people I replied right away to let him know how much I appreciated his explanations. Without his great responses to my tags and messages I would not have gotten so much joy from this challenging and exciting hobby.

Here is an example of an Ian response:

He was twigged and niggled! Wonderful.

Because he shared his thinking, I am much more likely to do that myself now. I know that it is worth the time and effort if it touches one person this way.

I’m grateful for our conversations and I’ll be thinking about him often as he smiles out from that “Top Identifier” position. I already miss him. The news had me in tears too.


Ian and I had many great chats on iNat. He was one of the only active Prairie Province moth enthusiasts so we really hit it off. We met virtually the day I joined and we were messaging back and forth almost weekly on iNat as we ploughed through moth ids. I really regret never having a chance to meet him in person though I was thrilled to see him virtually on one of Alberta Lepidopterist Wednesday zoom events.

I started to wonder about him last spring having tagged him for confirming some ids, and heard nothing back. Then I heard the terrible news. My iNaturalist world has not been the same since his passing.

He will be missed.


I missed this thread, I did send a direct message to Ms Barb who had written in Ian’s behalf on his profile. Below is part of what i wrote and what I felt about Ian Toal aka @mamestraconfigurata’s passing

Only just now did I get to know of Ian’s passing on an iNaturalist forum thread.

I am one of the many people on iNaturalist who had the privilege of benefiting from Ian’s support and helpful assistance. He usually liked and commented on many of my queries and responses.

I will personally miss his interventions, as I am sure many more will. His passing is a great loss to many of us.