Lifestage eaten

I’ve been thinking for a while that iNat needs a “lifestage eaten” observation field to complement it’s interaction fields. For example, here’s an observation of a praying mantis eating a monarch caterpillar. As usual, I’ve added an interaction field to capture the interaction between species. I also should add a field capturing the fact that it’s eating a larva, not an adult.

Before I jump in and make “lifestage eaten”, does anyone already know of a field that does the same thing that I’ve just not found yet? It’s a big world in iNat’s observation fields globally, and I don’t want to add another redundant field.


Took me a couple re-reads to get what you mean by that, but now that I get it, yes it would be handy! Can’t think of an existing one off the top of my head…


Do you mean a field for the lifestage the prey is at while being eaten? If so, then that would be very useful :)


Sorry if I wasn’t clear. Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.

OK. I’ve gone ahead and made life stage eaten.

If iNat ever builds an elegant way to connect two observations via an interaction, this field won’t be necessary. We’ll then be able to use the regular “life stage” field on each observation. For now though I think this will be handy for keeping track of what is being eaten.

Note that when it’s a plant being eaten, we already have the type of herbivory field.

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Perhaps interestingly, I’ve just been through and added this field to all the NZ praying mantis observations with prey, and although I started with a caterpillar as prey, I found 44 observations of praying mantis eating and in 42 the prey is another adult insect. Is that odd? I would have thought larvae would be both more numerous and easier to catch for a terrestrial predator that hunts on vegetation.

I think while mantids do “hunt”, they move slowly and are largely ambush predators on flying insects, which would largely put prey as adults.

Compare with paper wasps, which very quickly and actively scan through plants taking larvae as prey


Excellent point. As ambush predators, they’re likely to catch the most mobile prey more often, which would be the adults. Now I need to go through the paper wasps! ;-)

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