Species you struggle to ID

I think some birds change colouration based on the days of the week. I will ID some birds, but many I don’t well enough to even guess species.

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Some species/subspecies from different taxonomic groups, for example bryophytes, are problematic for me. If I am not able to solve a problem myself based on the available scientific literature, I ask my trusted friends whom I consider experts in the field.

[Lindens] [Genus Tilia] I have so many of these and can’t narrow down to basswood, linden or lime.

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They are pretty. Do they actually laugh if you tell them a joke?

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Uproariously!

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I have learned a new word today! I am still working on the pronunciation, though. Thanks!

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the kookaburra laughs

I can only tell bumble bees apart when I get the exact right picture at the exact right angle. Some are easier than others, like the brown belted where I could see a brown belt.

Now masked bees really have me thwarted.

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Yes on the repetition. If I had dollar for every time I’ve paged through every single page of the Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America, trying to ID a moth, I … let’s see … maybe could make a down payment on a good camera setup! But it sure helped develop my pattern recognition.

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I find I am limited by the age of my field guide. Butterflies of the West Indies was published in 1975. It has the Buckeye, Junonia coenia, and the Caribbean Buckeye, Junonia evarete. Then I go to Wikipedia’s “List of Lepidoptera of Hispaniola.” It has the Tropical or West Indian Buckeye, Junonia evarete and the Mangrove Buckeye, Junonia genoveva.

If those were actual iNat taxa, I might be able to ID them. But no; when I look at Junonia observations for the Dominican Republic, I do not see either of those. I see Northern Tropical Buckeye, Junonia zonalis, and West Indian Mangrove Butterfly, Junonia nieldii, and most are simply “Buckeyes and Pansies,” IDed to genus only. Meanwhile, iNat’s list of Junonia species still recognizes J. coenia, J. evarete, and J. genoveva also – just that none of the Dominican Republic observations are those taxa. So, even though I mostly specialize in Caribbean butterfly IDs, I am lost when it comes to the buckeyes.

There are a lot of types of organisms that are just plain hard to ID, or that I haven’t learned well enough yet, but there are a few that I have completely idiosyncratic difficulty with… willow vs. mulefat is a major one! No matter how many times I learn to tell them apart I always forget.

Not sure I’ll ever be confident IDing thrushes.

There are a lot of organisms I can “recognize” but not “identify.” So I can say “That looks like Zadontomerus” but I don’t feel comfortable IDing them based on that feeling because I can’t say “that’s definitely Zadontomerus and not a similar genus because of these wing veins and other features.” I hope over time that leads to being able to say “Oh, that looks like Zadontomerus which means these are the look alikes” and then I rule those out more systematically and ID the organism accurately!

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Kingbirds

Whiptail lizards

Sceloporus in the western US

Moths man, months. Here, it’s Geometridae, that’s as far as I can go

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My greatest nemeses are the Eleodes beetles. Some are kind enough to have unique striations, setae, or colors, but most are shiny and black and basically the same shape. Small details, like the shape and presence of femoral spines, are obscured in most photos. They are also very similar to Blaps, frequently with overlapping ranges and environments. I’ve basically given up on trying to ID them beyond “Tenebrionidae” without very detailed photos or an actual specimen. Sticking to the much kinder Zopheridae instead.

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I’m having trouble with some local Lomandra species, the very thin leafed ones with with very small pale yellow flowers in various inflorescence types and plant sizes. I think there are 2 to 6 different but very similar species, spread over large areas of some ridges and all intermingling. Maybe I’ll get some of them worked out eventually.

Willow flycatcher subspecies in Central and Southern California. Very tricky.

The obvious birding answer - flycatchers. Willow and Alder are basically impossible (to me, anyway) without hearing them.
Green frogs and Bull frogs. I just can’t quite get it.
Some of the red dragonflies look rather a lot alike, too… : /

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Indian Bullfrog and Asian Common Toads

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Many plant genera. The Jepson eFlora key to Genus Phacelia seems so large. Any flowering plant that requires fruit for ID, but it is not fruiting is difficult. Genus Cryptantha for example.

Lately I have been learning Stephanomeria, which has small key, but requires concentration with a hand lens and a ruler to determine what the fruit and pappus look like. Even with a 14x lens, the pappus bristles can be hard to see at times.

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Common Jesters and Common Sailers
Scarlet Skimmers and Ditch Jewel

I seldom try to take willows past Genus Salix, except for when I am in the Pacific Northwest, where S. scouleriana stands out as the only one found far from waterways, and has a different leaf shape than all the others.

I note that in California, all the observations that I would confidently call Quercus agrifolia, someone bumps back to Genus Quercus.

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