How to participate
Get a camera --
Make sure your camera has good macro function for best possible photographs.
You can test your camera with the "Dime Test".
Set time and date -- Make sure that your camera's time and date are accurate. Use your cell phone to set them.
Document where, when and who
Before you take photographs of nature, you first need to document accurately where you are,
the time, the habitat, the weather, and who's in your group. Do this by first photographing
- your latitude and longitude on a GPS, if one is available
- the time and date on a cell phone
- the habitat, facing North, East, South, and lastly, West
- the sky, to show the cloud cover
- the people you are with
- any road signs, park signs or buildings to pinpoint your position.
If you move farther down a trail or move to a different site, repeat step 1.
Photograph natural history at your site
Insects gathering pollen are not guarding territory and are unlikely to be aggressive and sting you.
But if you are allergic, be safe and carry an EpiPen.
Tips for taking insect photos:
Approach the host plant slowly.
Use a flash, to get a faster shutter speed - this minimizes blur from movement.
For best results, photograph insects in the following order:
Photograph any butterflies and skippers first, which are likely to flit away.
Then photograph bees and wasps, which will "trapline" from one flower to the next.
After that, photograph flies (flies have one pair of wings, bees and wasps have two pairs)
Flies will often visit a flower, leave, and then return to the same flower.
Then, photograph any beetles and true bugs, which move more slowly.
Finally, photograph aphids, spiders, spittlebugs, caterpillars and other slow moving insects.
If you reach your hand within a few inches of the insect, you will likely scare them away.
But you can handle the stem of the host plant about ten inches BELOW the insect,
and turn the stem to get a better shot.
Insects on a flower are getting blown about by breezes all the time,
and won't notice if the stem twists or bends. However, if you move, they are likely to flee.
Take as many photographs of the insect as you can, from as many angles as possible.
Ladybugs -- We are collecting data on invasive and native ladybugs.
Please take a photo of every individual ladybug that you can,
even if you have already taken some of that species.
Ladybugs are easy to find - look for any bright red, orange, or pink roundish beetle, with or without spots.
If you're not sure it's a ladybug, photograph it anyway.
Ladybugs are best identified by their front end, so try to get a good photo of their head.
Document the host plant of your pollinators by photographing each plant species as follows :
- Entire plant
- Stem, to clearly show leaf arrangement (opposite, alternate, etc.)
- Leaf underside at the petiole (where leaf attaches to stem)
- Leaf upperside at the tip
- Flower or flower cluster
- Fruit (nut, pod, berry, etc.), if present
- Bark, if it is a woody plant
Upload your photos
Get a photo album and install software -- You will need to do this before you upload images for the first time.
Ask for a personal photo album on Discover Life for each team member from Joe and then install secure upload software on your
Mac or PC.
Upload images -- Upload your photographs to your album (see existing albums),
documenting when and where you took each. (You'll need a photo album and password from Joe as explained in the previous step.)
Identify the species in your photographs with the help of our on-line identification guides,
other participants, and taxonomic experts.
You should start with published field guides or Discover Life's IDnature guides.
Here are a few examples of specific guides:
Edit data in album
Edit each of your photo records, either in groups or individually, to add locality data and species names.
We will provide information on the website describing how to edit your photo information.
Once your species are uploaded, identified and mapped - you have data!
You can use these to compare treatments and monitor species at your study site.
Collectively we can compare data across study sites and over time to understand general trends.
We hope you continue to collect. Enjoy!
If you want to participate, or have questions, please email
whether you plan to inventory a site, or design an experiment that compares two patches
the state, county and sites you plan to monitor;
the approximate dates you plan to participate;
what you plan to compare, and what questions you might ask;
if you are in a group, class, nature center, etc., please tell us the name
of your group and the approximate number of people you expect to participate;
if you are a teacher, please share with us how you will weave this into your
curriculum so that we can share this with other teachers.
We look forward to working with you. Happy Hunting!