Labels for poisonous/toxic on iNat

It might be nice to have some kind of label or symbol on iNat for organisms that are known to be poisonous/venomous. Something like the “Introduced species” thing.

I appreciate the intention but I think that might lead to a false sense of security and would vote against it. Even with a field guide in hand people should never assume they can eat or handle wild organisms they are unfamiliar with. iNat, in my view, should continue to promote a personal connection to nature but also personal responsibility and self-education with regard to being in the environment. If labels are incomplete iNat could possibly be seen negatively by some with improperly directed ideas of accountability or expectations that iNat is something different than it is, something seen as an authority.

That’s my gut reaction. I realize though that this is diverting the topic. @liesvanrompaey, if you had wanted to continue a discussion I can move this to a new topic. Let me know :)

@trh_blue sorry about that!


I agree with @mira_l_b on this one, and it seems the staff take the same position. This rejected feature request is the inverse, but relevant:


Ok. I have some thoughts on what you’re saying, so it might be good to continue somewhere else.

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Sounds good in theory, but how to define what is venomous? My main area of interest is hymenoptera, which has a large range of venoms, Some can only sting if they get a sensitive area of skin, some are a little prick or itch, like some sweat bees and Myrmica ants, but many are painful and can cause a dangerous allergic reaction (vespid wasps, larger bees, fire ants, asian needle ants, ect) while others (bullet ant) are incapacitatingly painful, but cause no lasting harm or allergy

There are also things like carpenter ants and Formica ants that spray formic acid and bite but don’t sting, although the acid in the bite can feel like a sting. I have even heard of an allergic reaction to the secretions of a florida carpenter ant’s mandibular glands, and all ants have mandibles and most, if not all (even something as completely innocuous as a turfgrass ant) have defensive secretions of some sort.

While is is fairly obvious that a warrior wasp is venomous and a turfgrass ant isn’t, we will have to draw an arbitrary line somewhere where we think “this is enough venom to be a problem”, and this could give a false impression that you can’t have a bad reaction to something just below that cutoff point, so I wouldn’t support this idea


The best place to handle information about toxicity would be in wikipedia articles linked into the taxa page. You could also link to authoritative sites that have information on toxicity etc.

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Although some field guides to plants and animals will label species as toxic, poisonous, or venomous, I don’t think it would be a good idea for iNat to take on that responsibility to properly ID all the species out there that could pose harm to a person if they touch, eat, or get bitten by it. There are some taxa where the danger to humans is variable, either regionally (potency of venom/toxin varies across populations) or based on the reaction of a particular person’s immune system. Also, would we want to include organisms that are important vectors for disease? That’s a whole 'nother topic.

Best not to take this one on.


If you are interested in knowing if your personal observations are of poisonous or venomous organisms, you could join or make a collection project that lists all of them, and then you can tell if an observation is added to that project (it will show on each observation) then it is of a poisonous or venomous organism.
You do need to use it with discretion though of course; I have joined an edible plants project like that and it “tags” my Common Milkweed observations as edible, even though most of the plant is definitely not edible.


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