Seeking guidelines for hatched insect galls on plants

I’m looking for a bit of advice to see if I’m going about my gall/insect observation in a reasonable manner. I did a hike last weekend and found some interesting plant galls. Occasionally, I would collect one and maybe dissect it to see what’s inside when I returned home.

I collected two and brought them home. But instead of dissecting them right away, I decided to wait, as @Megachile had mentioned in another post how one could wait for adult insects to emerge:

To my amazement, that worked quite well! Today I had what appear to be Gall Wasps emerging. But I was a bit uncertain about how to organize and label these.

  1. Should the photos of the mature insects be separate from the photos of the galls?
  2. Since I’ve essentially forced the hatching, speeding it up relative to the prevalent local conditions (still kind of cool outside here), should these be marked as non-wild or tagged in some other way to note the human-influenced nature of them?
  3. For the photos of the hatched adult insects, do I use the location where I found the gall or where I hatched & photographed them?

These are my observations from the two galls. I’m open to suggestions.


Yes, thy should be separate (but linked in first observation) and marked casual, location should be a true one (you can obscure house coordinates).


You should make the adults a separate observation from the galls, using the location of where you collected the gall. If the adults all look reasonably similar, you can combine them into one observation and note that they all emerged from the same gall. You will often get parasitoids or inquilines, so if it looks different then make that a separate observation. Otherwise, when an expert looks at them they can tell you if you should split them out for being different species. I make a note on the gall observation that adults emerged and include a link to that observation. Likewise, I make a note on the adults that they emerged from galls collected “here: link to gall observation.”

Do not mark it as captive since they were reared from wild specimens, but do put a note in the description that they may have emerged earlier than usual because they were kept inside after collection, or whatever.

Also, be sure to note the plant that you found the gall on. That is very important when trying to ID it!

Welcome to gall collecting!


Right at the moment when specimen like that is relocated by human it’s captive, it being inside someone’s house is clearly a captive one, but it doesn’t mater much if it was another specific place.

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I think it’s reasonable to separate photos of the galls and mature insects, just makes things slightly easier to keep track of instead of having one big observation with tons of diverse photos. But that’s especially true if they emerged on a different day than the gall was observed.

Personally, I reported my reared adults with the location I collected the galls, and reported them as wild, not captive. That seems to me to convey the most relevant ecological information. IMO the “captive” status should not be used to indicate any kind of intervention at all, but simply to prevent organisms that don’t breed in the wild from being included in local species lists. Marking an observation “captive” basically removes it from sight on iNat (doesn’t show up in search results anyone would normally use to look for wild insects), it’s a pretty extreme measure.


No. The reared wasps are captive. They are not “hidden from view”, as you link the two observations via comment or “similar observation set”, and there is an RG presence via the original observation.

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So lion cubs in a cage at a zoo should be marked wild because they were reared from a lion caught in the wild? Or an adult lion that was caught as a cub but observed in a cage at a zoo should be marked as wild? Please reconsider how you are using the wild flag on your captive/reared observations…

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This seems to be an extreme viewpoint.

There are scenarios where one might capture an ant in a local park, bring it home to photograph it under better conditions, then release it. By virtue of being brought indoors is it suddenly a captive?

Or if someone relocates a chrysalis from a busy sidewalk to within their garden: Does that mean that it was captive and/or reared? That it has suddenly switched from “wild” to “not wild” by virtue of having been temporarily relocated?

The Help page suggests the following:

The main reason we try to mark things like this is because iNat is primarily about observing wild organisms, not animals in zoos, garden plants, specimens in drawers, etc., and our scientific data partners are often not interested in (or downright alarmed by) observations of captive or cultivated organisms.

It also seems to suggest that collected and/or temporarily removed organisms/specimens can be “appropriately marked with date and location of original collection”.


I am curious about the best/right way to handle this one and it sounds like there is some disagreement.

@melodi_96 If I collect a plant and photograph at my home but marked with date and location of original collection do you consider it captive or wild?

@Megachile Do you mark the reared adults with the date of original collection (or time of hatching/adult observation)?

@kiwifergus Would you be ok with marking the reared specimen as Wild if the observer included the date & location of the original collection (instead of the later hatched date)? I am comparing the situation raised in this post to the examples in the “What does captive / cultivated mean?” section of the iNat Help Page that states: “your museum/herbarium specimens that are appropriately marked with date and location of original collection”. To me this seems more to match the case here than to compare to the zoo situation.

[Edit: It looks like @murphyslab raised some of these issues as I was finalizing my comment.]

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You can read the topic about water samples and microorganisms living there, gall insects undergo metmorphosis in captivity, they’re not wild. Yes, chrysalis moved by human intentionally and captred by this human or someone else knowing that it was done, it can’t be not casual observation. If it was moved without intention, then it’s wild and just ok. Ant taken home is captive, but if time is set correctly, you can post it as wild, but ant isn’t changing in a bit while being for an hour at someone’s house.
@naturebugs if it’s in original state of life, e.g. herbarium, then it’s for sure wild, if it grew significantly, it’s not.

Yes. Unless pin where caught and dated accordingly

Yes. It is not where the pillar chose to place it’s chrysalis. If they only ever attach to a specific plant, and I move it to another, then it is changed from its wild state.

There are grey areas, but let’s not confuse white for grey …


The reference to “temporarily removed”… If pin location and date are accurate for when taken, that is fine, I would mark those wild

Usually I would mark them captive. By rearing them at home I have altered the environment, and perhaps even protected them from parasitisation that might otherwise have occurred. I would have a “wild” observation at time collected, and ideally showing the organism insitu prior to collection, and then would mark subsequent observations while rearing on as captive. Otherwise it would be like making 2 or 5 observations on the same day! I think it better to keep them as separate observations rather than combining into one, as the organism has undergone change over a greater time than that one day/encounter should show, but linking via comment and/or field connects the observations particularly as evidence for ID on the first observation

Reared specimen with the date of gathering is a straight up lie, there wasn’t an adult there when you found it, it messes the data of life stages and overall it doesn’t sound like something anyone should do.


Thanks for mentioning this topics; this looks like the topic you mention? It raises some good points that are applicable to this discussion.

Back to the 3 questions raised by OP, it sounds like there is agreement that the answer to Q1 is Yes, separate observations for gall/raised insect (and linked either via comment or “similar observation set”), but no agreement re: Q2 (wild/captive) & Q3 (location) (with strong beliefs both ways and practical reasons for each way) [edit: at least so far].


Yes! It’s a pretty stable question, just not that obvious without research, using initial date/location is appropriate when you can “save” observation, so it’s when organism didn’t change drastically, if it happens it doesn’t matter much if you choose original or actual location, as it’s not only captive, but it’s not quite the one you caught, and galls are good example of such situation. It may seem unfair but it any situation you end up with one “good” observation. You can think about other example where a person makes several observations while rearing, if they all where marked with the initial date, it would be several life stages seen at the same time and still be the same specimen!

I’m going from memory, and possibly biased by my own position on this, but every literature reference I can think of where they talk about “lab reared” spider stages, they are always talked about them in terms of captivity. Especially when talking about web structures, the distinction that they are making the web in a captive setting Vs in the wild is a critical distinction.


For what it’s worth, there is only a single Cynipini observation in the entire world marked captive at the moment.

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Um… We have two in New Zealand, one at RG so not marked captive… Do you have a place filter set? Or is one of those what you are referring to…

I might be misunderstanding you… Do you mean of the thousands, only 1 is marked casual?

It doesn’t change a single thing.