The search: please try to learn suborders & families

I noticed that in some fields searches by suborder are not possible.

Hell, when I search for “Lepidoptera” of course, I get all results of Rhopalocera (dayflying butterflies) and Heterocera moths (nightflying).
But there’s no possiblity to search only for “Heterocera” … urrrggh, I’m not at all interested in Rhopalocera at all, why do I always have to get thru those 50.000 tourist pics ?
i’ve not the literature, have no database… sh*t, I just hate them :)

That’s really hard & disturbing me !

If somehow possible, I’d like to have also a possibility to search for adults only.
Yes, I noticed, that every 2nd tourist that find’s a caterpillar in the bush has to post his pictures, as he’s so lucky about his find.

Well, images of caterpillars are in my region (Africa): helpless. Without mentioning the name of the hostplant? That’s even more helpless, yes, almost impossbile.

Anyway, there are too few hostplants that are known, so even with the name of the hostplant it’s rather hard to identify a species. So, in my case: I’d also sort them out.
Just disturbes loading those pics that interest me.
But I do not know if this feature is possible, they still remain: lepdidoptera…

Maybe to mark the as larval stages ?

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African Lepidoptera:

African Lepidoptera excluding Papilionoidea:

African Lepidoptera excluding Papilionoidea, showing only those observations that have the “Life Stage” annotation (term_id = 1) marked “Adult” (value = 2)

This last requires that somebody has provided a (correct) annotation. I expect there to be many unannotated observations, so they will not be returned in this search.

More details on these URL parameters and others are available at the API documentation:!/Observations/get_observations


It’s not a real taxon, you need to add in a url an exclusion of butterflies, but there’s no need to “learn suborders” that don’t exist.


If you are view using the ‘identify’ screen rather than ‘explore’ you can also do ‘African lepidotera minus butterflies, without annotation ‘larva’’

Then if you do come across a caterpillar you can add the larva annotation very quickly by going to the annotations tab and typing ‘ll’ (those are small L not capital i !), this will enable some people to search better for African caterpillars and others (such as yourself) to ignore the caterpillars.

Not enough people add annotations, but it’s super quick with the hot keys and filters don’t work without them. Be the change! :-)


You could also start a project for the slice you want to see. Using one of the above filters tweaked to suit your purposes.
Then taxon specialists, can find the project and help to ID in future.

PS Malagasy Lepidoptera
Did you see this?

And his next one?

Given that this is a citizen science resource, I find your utter disdain for “tourist pics” rather concerning. And some of your other vocabulary: it’s possible to have little interest in a particular group without “hating” them. I do understand the need to filter out results that are not relevant to make one’s workflow efficient, but it’s not the fault of those creatures or the people who posted them that they come up in your results, and so I’m not sure your condescension is appropriate.

Anyway, that aside, I think @sdjbrown has already given you full answers on how to exclude sub-taxa and larval forms. The reason ‘Heterocera’ isn’t searchable is that it’s considered outdated taxonomically. As a general rule, it’s not desirable to have paraphyletic categories in the taxonomy as the naming system is supposed to be hierarchical. So, you can’t search for ‘Heterocera’ for the same reason you can’t search for ‘purple things’ or ‘smooth things’ – they’re not proper taxonomic groupings within modern Linnaean classification.

Lastly, I would say that your implication that observations of caterpillars are not useful is way off the mark. It’s your right not to be interested in them yourself, of course (we all have to focus our interests) but lepidopterans typically go through around eight metamorphological stages and it would be most odd for biologists to focus their study solely on the final one, which represents a mere 5% or so of the creature’s lifespan. Indeed, you yourself complain that too little is known about the larvae’s host plants; the only way knowledge of host plants will be expanded is by making more observations and doing more research. The “tourist pics” that you sarcastically say he “has to post as he’s so lucky” are worthwhile contributions to this research.


(Thank you!)

Welcome to the forum

We hear your frustration!

We hear your powerlessness!

Note: Regular users here and moderators discourage using the forum as a platform to criticize how others use iNat.

Sticking to your feelings (as quoted above) and needs (how do i filter for x) without judgments of other iNat users will help foster community and inclusion.

Would you be willing to participate using those parameters?

Good luck with your new searches!


Hi @tonton, I’ve caught the Order Lepidoptera worldwide adults/larvae annotating up to about the last 10K or so. Afterward, is there a particular suborder, superfamily or family I can help you with in Africa by focusing at a different level for now? Let me know, thanks!


Or a deliberate project - which includes people who rear caterpillars to see what the adult stage looks like.

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Well, maybe, maybe not. If enough of the host plant is visible that it can be identified and added as an observation field, that might be so. But if not, it’s just an unidentifiable caterpillar on an unknown host plant.

Unidentifiable for now, pretty much any caterpillar can be ided without the host plant if just there was a scientific research and good photos/keys. All unided caterpillars are valuable, plus family can be ided in most cases with some local knowledge.


That’s still no reason to denigrate the observation or the observer.


Heterocera is or at least was a real taxon. It is just paraphyletic. I would be okay with iNaturalist omitting paraphyletic groups if it did it consistently. The site still recognizes “Dicots” in the year 2023 which is rather unacceptable!

What would be even more unacceptable is for even more observations to be stuck at “plants” because people can’t tell eudicots from basal groups.

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In that case, it would be fair to allow people to choose Heterocera if they know it is Lepidoptera and not Papilionoidea.

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