What Observations Have Been Your Most Dangerous/Hard to Get?

This Calosoma granatense was stuck to the top of a cactus, and I fell into the cactus trying to get it down. Luckily, I wasn’t punctured by the cactus.


I have similar things happen on a smaller scale whenever i’m looking for insects and fungi among nettles . Whenever I get assaulted by said plants I get an itchy rash for multiple days, it’s a shame since in my local nature reserve there’s a thriving population of cave dwelling aquatic isopods living in an overgrown well which I can only access during late autumn-winter. I have also had quite a few unpleasant encounters with brambles when I try collecting them to feed my caterpillars.

This was pre-iNat so no pictures but the worst experience was the aftermath of finding my first Leonard’s Skipper (Hesperia leonardus). I was living in SC and visited my family in PA. I decided on the way home to stop by one of the serpentine barrens where Leonard’s lived. So I get out and go into the habitat full of bluestem grass and find many individuals of the skipper. Great!

So I get into the car and drive the 10+ hours to SC with my field clothes on. Little did I know that in my haste I did not spray myself with bug spray, and as I drove down the little bastards were biting me silently. So for weeks afterward I had chigger rashes all over my knees AND ankles. Hundreds of bites. That was absolutely miserable to endure. Not sure the skipper was worth it.


Yikes, from that pin it doesn’t seem like there is a house and just a large field off the main road. I have encountered unfriendly people in the field before but mostly at the end of roads or in the woods and they usually just holler at you to “git out”.

Funny is there are a couple other lily pictures from way off the other side of the street with a bunch of houses nearby. I hope they survived!!

I have also experienced chigger “problems” whilenout in the field.


I deleted the photo because it was grainy and fairly useless, but a few months ago I was at the end of some utility road looking for paw paw trees. It was dusk and I was getting ready to head back when I got punched in the back of my head. It wasn’t the hardest punch in the world, but I saw stars for a few seconds.

As far as I could tell, nobody was around, and when I looked on the ground I didn’t see a rock or anything that someone might have hurled at me.

I was looking around to see if someone was indeed nearby, and as I was scanning the trees, I saw two big eyes laser focused on me. And then another pair.

They were two huge owls (I think Barred owls) and they way they kept bobbing their heads while staring at me was unnerving. I took a couple steps and one of them came at me again, but that time my dog saw it and it aborted its mission.

I know it sounds silly, but I seriously underestimated those birds. They were all business.


I have reduced the number of near death experiences since I started using iNaturalist. Or maybe I just don’t notice because I’m messing with my phone? But I definitely haven’t gotten lost recently. So that’s good.


Wearing chest waders while setting or collecting fish sampling gear in a fast-moving river that was almost chest-deep with a shifting sand bottom was probably one of the more alarming experiences for me during field work. It still makes me twitchy to remember it. On one occasion I couldn’t find my path back to the shore – it seemed there was deeper water in whatever direction I tried. I had to stop and think and consider the options: abandon the inexpensive T-posts I had in hand (which I did), swim and hope the waders didn’t fill too fast (which I didn’t need to do), or remember my precise path out there and hope the bottom hadn’t shifted (that worked). I was much more respectful of the river after that.

I also dumped a canoe a few times while doing surveys but thankfully escaped from those incidents with just cuts, bruises, and some embarrassment.


I think this one takes the cake!!

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Any of mine hundreds of observations at bottom of Grand Canyon. Required months and months of planning and permits followed by long road trip to the park, then backpacked down of over 5000’ (3.5 km) over about 9.5 miles (15 km). Only then could we begin sampling.

One trip had a daily high of 114°F (45°C) at the bottom…did river to rim then back down to river as a day hike while camping at the bottom that day. Another trip it rained and rained the entire time, which made the canyon amazingly beautiful, but all the rock and trails was super slippery. That same trip had trails of packed snow and ice for the top mile or so (1.5 km). That same trip also nearly cost me my job when students complained and fingered me for all of the things that went wrong. Completed one trip to the bottom, and then two weeks later, my mom passed away. Anyway, I was suspended from my academic job without pay for a semester and functionally banned from the park following both state and federal investigations (guess who’s NOT going to be included as junior authors on those papers…). On the bright side, I IDd like a fiend that whole time I was on suspension, so the real winner there was… the observers of iNat. Huzzah…or something equally banal.

Maybe this is oversharing, but there are dangerous observations…there are hard observations…then there are career-trajectory changing observations that forever haunt your ever-waking moment. Good times.


They blamed you for the weather??


Did you get to see Agave phillipsiana?

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That was just the excuse. They blamed me for everything that went wrong. Hotel bed wasn’t made when we checked in? My fault. A certain restaurant with gluten-free options wasn’t open when we passed through town? I wasn’t accommodating of dietary issues. Blisters? My fault. Camelbak was cross-threaded creating a big watery mess in a backpack? No, it “exploded”? Didn’t offer to help dry clothes of student? My fault. And on, and on, and on…for 93 pages!


Apparently not, just A. utahensis.

@petezani Ugh! What a bunch of Debbie Downers! Sorry that happened to you. Even worse that your employer sanctioned you for all those circumstance that weren’t your fault.


Good grief. Was this a college-level group? I’d expect this sort of behavior out of a bunch of mid-teens-aged hormone bombs*, but even folks in 100-level classes should have evened out after the first month or so.

*(Myself included; I was not known for consistent calm and rationality at that age.)


As someone who’s a mid-teen hormone bomb I’d just get on with it and appreciate that there’s worse things that could happen to me than minor inconveniences . I’d pay an awful lot of money to be able to visit the Grand canyon and go looking for wildlife rather than sitting in the chilly UK and feebly looking for mushrooms and lichen.


So would I, when I was a mid-teen hormone bomb and part-time waterfall. (I included myself under that heading for a reason.) :laughing: Heck, I still would. Colorado is lurching towards winter, but it’s still dragonfly season in Arizona.

An instructor mangling Latin pronunciation and accidentally summoning a demon? That’s worth complaining about. An unmade bed just means that I don’t have to feel guilty about climbing into it with my hair still wet from the shower.


I am risk-averse, so this isn’t my example.

But there was that famous “raw sewage and flame thrower courtesy of irate landowner” Black-winged Pratincole twitch.



ooof! Probably when I wore the wrong shoes while tidepooling during a negative tide and stubbornly did not give it up despite the fact that the soles of my shoes were sliding constantly and the algae on the rocks was slippery as snot. Then, I went a bit too far out and the tide started coming in, meaning I had to jump between rapidly submerging rocks.

At the end of the expedition, I figured my tidepooling days* were over. I was sore all through my back, hips, and knees from constantly using unaccustomed muscles to keep upright.

My favorite sighting was this leather star, which made it worth the stress.

*I still go tidepooling, but with better water shoes and more caution.