What is the best way to use observation fields for insects on plants?

I’ve noticed that there are a number of different observation field that all basically mean “the taxon I am reporting was on this plant” For instance, one is “Plant Association”, another is “Flower or Plant Association” and yet another is “Name of Associated Plant”. Each one seems to be used by different projects. If I just want to tag photos of insects on plants to make it easier for someone to search for insect-plant associations, what’s the best way to do that.


You can use whichever fits your needs best. You can also use tags and descriptions, because there explore filters for those, making them somewhat easier than observation fields (in certain situations).

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Also if you have a relevant project available, consider joining.

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I once calculated which pollinator fields are mostly widely used here: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/value-of-using-a-single-pollinator-host-plant-field/25125

I currently typically only use “name of associated plant,” because it’s used in a few bee or wasp projects I’m in or created like Green Roof Biodiversity. It’s also possible to add multiple fields to be required in projects (like Flowering Visiting Wasps of the World does), or as a user to enter a plant into multiple fields for any obs. regardless of whether it’s in projects, although I don’t do either. Despite that I currently fill out name of associated plant, I’d support the future possibility of iNat changing to integrate floral host associations more into the core site structure itself, like Discover Life does on it’s bee species pages. That way, no data is lost or fragmented like currently just due to people and projects using many different plant host fields. I don’t think a feature request has ever been made for that idea yet, but it may be worthwhile to consider making one. Overall, I agree that the fact that people currently use many different floral host fields is confusing and fragments data/field usefulness.

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Thanks, I will suggest this as a feature. I was hoping to use the observation field to try to figure out every species seen visiting a certain plant (Encelia farinosa), but quickly realized that this wouldn’t be as easy as I’d hoped.

A further issue is the fact that some of the observation field data is incorrect (one user added E. farinosa in the observation field for “name of associated plant”, when the plant was actually another species). It would be great it plant-pollinator associations were built in and could be ID’d by the community as well.

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This sounds good. I’ll also explain how Discover Life looks to track floral associations in case you use it as influence for the iNat feature request. First, go to https://www.discoverlife.org/ and type a bee species, Hylaeus affinis, into to the central search bar. On it’s species page, scroll to the bottom where it says Hosts, and it shows every plant species the bee species has visited, and includes a map of the plant records/“observations.” DL seems to do this by associating or connecting their mapped bee records and plant records. And also similar to what you were looking for, you can also click on or search a plant species name, and it’s species page will list the bees that visited it at the bottom. If iNat were to ever implement something like this, it will be ideal to include at either all pollinators or (more broadly) all plant-visiting or -using animal species.

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