Not getting any IDs for my photos of insects and fungi

Have I not done something right when adding them? Most of what I post are plants, but I do have the occasional bug and fungus!

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both insects and fungi can be incredibly difficult to identify


Keep in mind also that right now is prime time for observing insects in many places in the northern hemisphere, and many people that could be identifying may be dedicating their efforts instead to making the most out of the remnants of summer. For me personally, I spend a significantly larger amount of time in the winter identifying, and the summer is for making my own observations


As has been noted by others on this forum, certain taxonomic groups are slow to reach Research Grade (that is, to get 2 agreeing IDs to species) because they are difficult groups of organisms to ID from photos and/or there are relatively few individuals on iNat with the knowledge to provide those IDs. Plants, many insects, and I suspect fungi fit those categories. Some won’t be identifiable to the species level.

As I mentioned elsewhere, post a photo-record of a bird and you can often have one or more concurring IDs in about 15 minutes. But don’t wait on your plant records.


In my experience, fungi ID are the “worst” to get. They’re often very hard to identify from pictures, especially if someone (like me :roll_eyes:) doesn’t know what features are helpful to photograph or note down while in the field (sometimes it might be useful to know what plants are growing in the vicinity, for example!). Another issue (probably stemming from the difficulty) is that there’s very few IDers: most of the IDs I got are from a single user (to whom I’m immensely grateful, if they’re reading)!


I just checked your observations they look fine- there doesn’t appear to be any problem in the way you have added them.

I suggest joining some projects and adding your observations to them as appropriate. I have had a better response to my own fungi pics since joining my national fungi project. Projects are the best way to meet taxon enthusiasts who can be more helpful than the generalist ID pool.


For those interested in making your fungus (specifically mushroom) observations more identifiable on iNat, this video tutorial from @Leptonia is a great place to begin:


The lack of active identifiers for many groups of insects has inspired me to try to learn how to identify them myself. If you live in North America, the website BugGuide can be very helpful for that.


Often IDs just take time. It’s slow for certain taxa and certain locations.

Where I’m working in Asia many observations go years without confirming identifications (or even an initial identification if I can’t ID it properly) simply because there are few people using iNat who have experience/expertise in my region.

It’s frustrating, but patience is key.


In addition to what everyone else has said, sometimes it can be helpful to follow and comment on the observations from other users in your area. I recently complimented a new user on some of their moth photos and they later went through and added identifications to some of my own moth photos.

Similarly, a comment like, “This reminds me of something from Group A or Group B but I’m not sure which” on someone else’s observation might help a little in refining the identification while also encouraging interaction with your own observations – either from the original uploader or from an identifier who comes along later. If the uploader does later find a way to distinguish between the two choices they’ll see your comment when they make their ID and may decide to go to your observations to further apply what they’ve learned.


I’ve had a somewhat similar experience here in South Korea. Fortunately, with iNaturalist continually growing, it’s becoming more common to see knowledgeable users going through and adding identifications to older observations. I had a large number of insect observations sitting at higher taxonomic levels until wongun (Hemiptera), bio96 (Odonata), taewoo (Orthoptera), and wonwoong joined.


Yep, sometimes nothing will happen for a long time, then one day someone swoops in and makes a ton of identifications.


@boute - based on your observations, I assume you are a fellow Canuck.

Canada actually has among the major nations contributing to the site, the 3rd highest rate of observations which make it to research grade. Overall it is over 70%, and only trails New Zealand and Russia.

The same pattern holds in Canada in terms of which families get successfully reviewed though. Currently those rates are:

Family RG Records Confirmable Records Rate
Birds 235817 245071 96,2%
Mammals 44686 50235 88,9%
Reptiles 23578 24042 98,1%
Amphibians 26781 28122 95,2%
Fishes 9377 11221 83,6%
Butterflies 56728 62915 89,4%
Odonata 40443 50989 79,3%

Arachnids 9146 27291 33,5%
Other insects 185156 349869 52,9%*
Plants 438507 711282 61,6%
Fungi 31106 108161 28,8%

*The other insects is impacted by moths which tend to outperform other groups here, if moths were also excluded, the rate would drop below 50%.

It may sound odd, but one of the best things you can do to help get your records identified is to identify records in the province for others. As an example, since I don’t know your particular interests, say you had interest in the plants of Alberta, if you identify records from the province, then when other people who have the same interest do the same, they won’t have to deal with those records, and yours that you cant identify will be more prominent for them.


I identify fungi. My specialty is bracket fungi and what I call ‘odd-balls;’ fungi with odd forms. Stalked mushrooms are usually my weakest area although I can identify many of these too.
The main problem I encounter with observations is that only a single image of the cap is provided. A lot more images and information is often needed to identify fungi.
Images should include a series of images:
Where it was found. Was it growing on wood, from the soil? If on wood, hardwood? conifer?
The cap.
The undersides. Pores? Gills? Teeth? Smooth? How were the gills attached to the stem? The shape and size of pores can be important.
A longitudinal image or cross-section of the cap and stem, including any ‘bulb’ or ‘root’ at the base. Was there a volva at the base? Patterning – scales, reticulation - on the stem?
In the base of boletes, information on blue – or other color – staining when it surfaces are slightly damaged, or when the mushroom is cut longitudinally.
Spore prints are occasionally important. Chemical reactions to a 3% solution of potassium hydroxide are also helpful occasionally.
If this type of information isn’t provided, it can be almost impossible to identify the fungus.


Thank you for this information, it is incredibly helpful!

Yes! I have recently gotten into identifying (moths and plants in my region) - it’s intensely frustrating trying to ID a plant when there is only one photo, frequently of a single flower. I’m relieved when I get to an observation with 3-4 photos, because then I have a chance.
@boute135 I’m not saying that you do this (I haven’t looked at yours yet), just responding to the quoted response.
I do try to ask people if they have other photos, but all too often I just skip that observation. I wish that somehow the site would more prominently encourage people (especially newcomers) to post multiple photos. I think it might make both the reviewers and the submitters happier.

Me too! But i’ll never get as good as the identifiers from BugGuide. How do we get them on iNat? It’s a far easier platform, for me, at least.

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I agree! We’ve discussed that on this thread but I don’t know if we’ve made any progress…

I doubt many of the editors on BugGuide would switch. Using both is too time consuming, they have ‘power’ there, and many view iNat as some sinkhole of amateur losers.

Another thing that can increase your chances of getting someone to review your sightings is to include them in a project somewhere. Often there are reviewers who focus identifying in particular projects who don’t ID in the wider iNaturalist records.
Also, narrowing down your IDs as far as you can will often draw more attention. Rather than posting a photo of an insect and calling it insect, if you can ID it down to an order or family, people with expertise in that group are more likely to notice it. If I don’t know what group it is in, I will sometimes just accept iNat’s identification suggestion in hope that it will get it close enough to draw some eyes.