Uploading photos of a butterfly collection

Hello everyone!
Around two years ago I was entrusted with a butterfly collection, after the original collector was no longer able to keep it. The collection has been sitting in my storage for the past years without disturbance, as I didn’t have the time to make an inventory (and I also don’t want to expose it to potential harmful elements without a goal).
Eventually I’ll entrust it to the local national history museum (I have already spoken with the Entomology curator about it). But in the meantime, and now that I have a bit more free time, I was wondering if I should photograph each individual and upload observations of it. Most have a place and a date assigned, so the quality of the data should not be a problem.

It should be fine assuming you can provide all of the necessary information.

I’m sure someone else will mention this. If it’s going to a museum collection and will be included in a database that feeds to GBIF, your iNaturalist records will be duplicates for end users. Now, if there are interesting and rare records, I’m sure the community here would be happy to see them.

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Hi João. There have been several similar threads on the question of uploading photos of collections made by other people. You may find some useful suggestions in these:







Somewhere in the forum I think there was a discussion about whether if you’re adding photos of organisms collected by someone else it might be better to use a dedicated account rather than your own (can’t remember the consensus on that). Anyhow, it seems to me that these photos would be useful. However, the primary purpose of iNat is to support people in making their own observations in the wild.


In general, iNat observations are supposed to represent your own experiences, so bulk uploading a lot of someone else’s observations is a bit of an edge case. I would suggest contacting the original collector and making sure that they are ok with this. You could potentially set up a joint account for them that they are owner of so that the observations show as being theirs and do the uploading for them. Otherwise, you will show as being the collector which isn’t the case.

You might also want to ask the museum you intend to donate them to. If that museum is going to digitize the specimens and upload to GBIF then this would just be duplicating effort.

Edit: @egordon88 and @rupertclayton write faster than me! :grinning:


@egordon88 @rupertclayton @cthawley @rinaturalist thank you very much for your insights. The question of the original collector’s approval is something that had already crossed my mind, particularly due to the possibility of donating the collection to the museum (which I’ll only do with the green light from the collector/family).

The same for the possibility of the data being uploaded to GBIF eventually. Although I believe many end users will filter duplicates (from my experience in ecological modelling), I understand that duplicates are always a potential issue.

With all this in mind, I won’t be uploading the data to iNaturalist. I might use the free time to do an inventory, to save some time to the museum.

Thank you all once again!


If the collection location and date are posted with them, these will make fine observations for iNaturalist. Be sure you mention the collector on each observation.

That said, the commenters above have valid points to think about when deciding whether to post or not. I personally don’t fret about possible duplicate postings on GBIF, considering it a very large repository of information and your collections a very small proportion of it. However, perhaps I should be more sensitive to this.

It’s possible that the entomology collection where you will donate the specimens would be very happy to get your photos of them too. This may be useful as they digitize their collection.


@joaolemoslima Yes, I think most people will de-dupe. That said, I think it can sometimes be more challenging to do this if the data on iNat and in a museum are different. For instance, if the georeferencing is slightly different between iNat and Museum or if you were the observer on iNat and the museum specimens were under the name of the original collector, etc. If they are consistent between iNat and GBIF, I don’t think it’s a big problem.

Also, you can pick someone’s response and choose it as a solution to sort of soft close the thread.


Thank you. As much as we all love iNat, its use cases are not infinite, and other platforms are better for certain purposes.

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Uploading photos of a collection of pinned butterflies sounds fine as long as they’re all labeled etc.

One example of this on iNat is Mike Quinn’s observations. If you look through his observations you can find that he’s got a lot of his own stuff, but also lots of photos of specimens from the TAMUIC with the proper date, collector, determiner in the Notes section.

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