Still "wild" or already "captive"?

Imagine you find a caterpillar some where in the park. Take it home, feed it well, and the caterpillar develops well, and then you have a butterfly. You proudly present the observation here.

Should that be marked captive or not?

Background for my question is observation
by a new user. The observation is marked casual because someone disagreed with “wild”.

But it’s true I do not know the background in this specific case, I just made up the story above to get some input on how to differentiate between “wild” and “captive”.

If you photograph it at home and set place and time to the spot where you found it it’s still wild, if you change data, or if it moults it’s captive (as observation, the caterpillar itself becomes captive when you take it home and raise). For linked observation it’s better to split it in 3, 1 day=1 obs. and first one could be wild and linked with others.


I’ve also wondered how “wild” vs. “captive” should apply in the case of fished/hunted specimens. I assume a picture taken of a fish that’s just been reeled in by an angler is “wild”, but what about a picture from a fish market near where the fish were caught?

I’ve done this before, too, and learned that it’s best to split the observation as melodi_96 suggests above and link them together, e.g. using the “similar observation set” field. If the caterpillar was found wild, it should be left that way, but if raised at home the following stages then become captive. Having them all linked together of course is really helpful with the ID, but putting all the pictures into one observation is not the best way to do this. Each observation is supposed to be one point in time and clearly caterpillar, pupa, and adult existed at different time points. Also, you can only annotate one life cycle stage per observation.

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Usually those are casual, you never can be sure about exact location where it was caught.


And bringing it full circle: I have a photo in which I found the caterpillars wild, raised them captive until eclosure of the imago, then released them back at the same spot where I had originally found the caterpillar. The photo was of the adult butterfly perched on the tree trunk after release but before its first flight. So if we want to be sticklers – did it change from captive to wild the moment I placed it free on the tree trunk, or did its rewilding only occur after it flew away?


Good question - I’ve raised monarchs and tagged them for the migration and the instructions said to mark them as reared and not wild in the reporting sheet. So I always assumed butterflies from caterpillars raised in captivity also count as “captive/cultivated” - maybe more “cultivated” in this case than “captive” after they have been released. In any case, the person releasing the butterfly decides where to release, so the location is not where the butterfly was found but where the human releasing it wanted it to be. So my personal take on this would be to still mark it captive until it has flown off and decides where to go on its own.

When it started flying, as long as you don’t control its movements, if you placed it on the twig it’s kinda still under your “will”.

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