What is the most interesting organism that you have seen in your local area?

After using iNaturalist for a while, I thought it would be interesting to subscribe to my local area and see what is observed over here. I am not surprised that snakes are found where I live. Neither am I raising any eyebrows about scorpions, Monarch Butterflies, or an assortment of Fungi. But Nutrias? I did not expect to see them here. Also, apparently there are Air Potatoes in my area. I am really curious as to what else can be found locally, and my initial description may change depending on what else has been found. I am not sure if this is similar to other topics, but sometimes, it is good just to get back to where you live and properly explorer your neighborhood and city.

Edit 1: Apparently, now there are Scarab Beetles found here. I did not realize that Scarabs are found all over the world. Neat.

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I haven’t yet seen the Italian Wall Lizard, but it does live in several parks in NYC. I hope to see it next year once the warm weather gets here again.

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Marine king eider in Moscow: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/64855270.

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Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/63483030

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Rhytidhysteron rufulum, a Dothideomycete fungus that has been documented to infect humans: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41212176

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Locally… I do not have ID’s for all of these, necessarily, but my favs are bobcats. I’m also excited to have seen a number of rattlesnakes, a native scorpion, and a native tarantula. Oh, well, golden eagles were pretty special, too.

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There’s a red fox that roams our neighborhood on select nights. I’ve only seen it once back in August but it’s haunted my imagination since then.

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Due to the Pandemic, I have been sort of stuck to my hometown in Penang, Malaysia.
In recent months, I have been exploring a hill behind where I lives and was surprised to find a few interesting stuff, including new records in locality/distribution and possibly some stuff new to science!

Here’s a few of them :

  1. A small sized Planthopper :
    https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/59736223

  2. A small sized Spider :
    https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/59747033

  3. Poltyd mouhoti Spider, possibly new distribution record :
    https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/56625108

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I enjoyed finding Euonymus scale (Unaspis euonymi) on Japanese Euonymus (Euonlymus japonica) this year in Liverpool, UK and then went on to find it in 4 more sites in teh City region.

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Rhodofomes roseus in a very trampled urban forest close to my apartment block. Fungus of large spruce deadwood which is red-listed in Lithuania.

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The one I had the most fun with was the Cold-country Caterpillar Hunter, a large black beetle. We had a canker worm infestation this year, and the Caterpillar Hunters were also abundant. I’d knock a canker worm off a leaf, and pick it up by the thread they hang from. I’d take to one of the beetles and dangle it so the beetle could sense it. It was a thrill if they managed to take one and eat it!
There were also Ospreys along the river.

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This year surprised me with Mistle Trushes and many Bramblings seen from my window. Not close to my house, but I wanted to check a spot where Brant Goose was seen in October, but found a beautiful female Velvet Scoter. One I don’t have a photo of was a female Long-tailed duck in a small pond (will put here Google maps link later), it was wild but very tame and nobody from our group had any cameras (it was before smartphone era). Though this year iNatters helped me to see this beautiful male that only has one wing but seems to be ok and feed well.
From other groups I will say this rare Lesser Searcher Beetle found uni the rain right near my house and this not that rare but beautiful carabid without English name on iNat. There were also many finds that I didn’t expect, I didn’t know about many of those species.
Also wanted to highlight this first Old World observation on iNat of a beautiful fungi also found near my house.

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For me that’s definitely Alphasida holosericea, a tenebrionid beetle endemic to the Province of Málaga. As you can see mine was the first obeservation of the species and is the species photo. Apart from having a very restricted distribution, it is also beautiful - doesn’t it look like pin-stripes and velvet?

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Nearly all the observations in my area are made by me, so it’s not often that people observe something that I didn’t already know was there. However, there’s been a few observations of nocturnal critters (owls, nighthawks, bats) that I would probably not have noticed or would’ve only barely seen on my own. A good example being bats, I see them flying overhead most summer evenings but have no way to get an IDable photo of any of them. Other people’s observations allow me to see those things that I haven’t been lucky enough to find yet.

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I found a spider from the Geolycosa genus (Burrowing Wolf spiders). I had never heard of this particular genus and have found little information on them other than a few research studies primarily from Florida and Australia.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41479160

If anyone happens to know more information about this genus I would be happy to learn more!

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While I was away at college, I saw what resembled a living, moving breadcrumb and was entranced. I have a pretty good baseline understanding of wildlife, but I have never seen anything comparable to this before in my life. I tracked its movements for 15 minutes, following it under foliage (some of it turned out to be poison ivy, but I have no regrets).

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—Edited to give descriptions of links to the walking stick look-alike insects and the spiders and to fix link to mystery insect—

What counts as “interesting”? Maybe something you didn’t know existed before? Something weird but cool? These were all found in my yard.

Wasps that use existing holes in wood and stuff them full of grass that they carry one piece at a time to use to make their nest:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/58158761

Mushrooms that start off looking like a furry rabbit foot then open up losing their “fur” and then melt into black goo in only a few hours:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/64989424

Insects that look like walking sticks but are unrelated:
Emesaya brevipennis (member of thread-legged bugs)
Ranatra (member of waterscorpions)
American Grass Mantis

This weird thing (insect larva?) that I still have no idea what it is: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/43548453 <— corrected link

Strangely shaped mushrooms known as elfin saddles:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/18104076

These spiders:
crazy awesome coloration & pattern
extremely long second pair of legs
tiny translucent green jumping spider
very spiny and oddly shaped

This gall that looks like a polka dot pompom:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/40278495

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Those Obs from the Big Thicket are pretty interesting. I was really surprised by the translucent green spider (pretty!).

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Hard to pick just one, but I can say that the most genuine “Woah” I’ve had since I started as a naturalist was when I observed Gnamptopelta obsidianator, a parasitic wasp that not only has an awesome name (The latin name loosely translates to “Bent-shielded besieger”), but it is also a breathtaking sight.

We usually think of parasitic wasps as minuscule, but this thing was huge! it really makes you wonder how big is the larva, and the pupa as well. But more importantly, what host would such a big wasp have? Presumably it targets Sphinx Moths! Makes sense.

I remember seeing a big black insect flying around, and of course, I had to chase it, when it finally landed on a leaf I snuck into the foliage to see what was probably the biggest wasp I’ve ever seen: 30-40 mm according to BugGuide, only comparable to a Cicada Killer or a Bald-Faced Hornet queen I saw recently. The Jet Black body with orange legs and antennae make it look a lot like a Pepsis sp., which unfortunately isn’t found up here in NJ, so I said to myself “Must be an Ichneumonid”. After I got home I spent at least an hour searching the web for identification and how to confirm if I had found an Entypus sp. or an actual Ichneumonid, then I finally got to the conclusion that it was G. obsidianator

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I’m pretty sure the critter in question is the larva of a Green Lacewing. They usually gather plant debris and in some cases lichen to make a little protective case that also grants camouflage. I like to make people think lichen has little legs whenever I see one.

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