Suggesting an Identification

Sometimes I am having trouble, especially with wasps, placing my observation in a genus. If I don’t know where it belongs should I just choose the first suggestion that is offered.

That is one possible approach. But the automatic suggestions are not perfect, they don’t include every possible genus or species, and some suggestions may not even occur on your continent.

A better approach (in my opinion) is to identify to the finest level your are reasonably confident is correct. So something like Family Vespidae, or a subfamily, or even Order Hymenoptera – whatever you think is appropriate (I don’t know wasps at all!). That will hopefully get it in front of the right specialists who can help narrow down the genus.


Pick the option to type in a species. In your example, type in “wasp”. Pick a higher level taxon like “Ants, Bees, and Stinging Wasps.” Others will run into it and refine it further. Even “Insect” will get it done, just might take longer.


I would refine what was said above slightly. If you proactively add something as an ID, it does increase (probably significantly) the probability it will get reviewed and further identified. But I would not go so far as to say it ‘will get it done’. There is no guarantee any observation submitted to the site will get reviewed or further identified. Some simply don’t.

Some get overlooked as the flood of records is stretching the identifiers capacity, some fall into taxonomic areas that in general are harder to get successful ID’s for. Some areas like birds, mammals, reptiles, ‘charismatic’ insects like butterflies and dragonflies can have very high rates of successful identification. Other areas like plants, fungi etc can be much lower as it is often a case where there are just too many different options that can’t be separated by mere photo.

In would echo what @jdmore said, running the computer vision suggestion tool is a great starter, but unless you are really confident it gets it right (my approach is often to mentally note what I think it is, andt then see if the vision tool agrees, and it it does, then I will select it), not choose the species that is the top suggestion, but pick the genus, or family it is in etc. Most specialist taxonomy identifiers will look for family, orders or classes in terms of records to review, so they should see yours if you do that.

This also greatly reduces the chances that someone will blindly agree to your species suggestion without really knowing what it is as well.


True, even IDing to species doesn’t ensure it will become research grade. IDing it to a higher level that you are sure of will make a correct ID in the end more likely than if you guess an incorrect species at the start.


Thanks for your suggestions on helping me start with the identification process.

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