My 2023 Bug Year

Why should birders have all the big yearing fun?

Take a gander at, and you’ll see my start at a “Bug Year” in 2023.

My goal is to produce research-grade iNaturalist observations for 1,500 arthropod species in Essex County, Ontario. There’s no lack of insect and spiders species in the area. Tens of thousand? Hundreds of thousand? I don’t know, but regardless there’s a whole lotta insect and spider species crawling and flying around. Still, reaching 1,500 research-grade species will be no walk in the park.

This is a very ambitious number. I’m not sure I will be able to reach it —but we shall see. So if there are so many species around, why is 1,500 species so ambitious? Don’t I practically have that many species crawling around in my backyard? Possibly, but there is a catch.

First, identifying arthropods is very, very hard. Many arthropods are impossible to identify, or at least darn near impossible without microscopy or DNA analysis. Even if I stumble upon a correct ID, research-grade on iNaturalist isn’t a given. It requires a clear photo of the right parts and community confirmation. And it’s easy to see why experts are hesitant to confirm IDs on the really difficult cases.

Only about 59% of the observations of arthropods in Essex County, Ontario have gone to research grade. And for the 41% that are without research grade, it’s quite likely many of them will never move to research grade. And likely a HUGE amount of those research grade ones are on a few very easy to identify species, such as some butterfly species.

Second, my target number is proportionally large compared with my number in 2022 (538), almost 3X as many species. Also my target is over 50% of the overall number of research-grade arthropod observations from ALL TIME by EVERYONE.

So what does an arthropod Big Year look like? Overall, I don’t really know yet and I’m about to find out.

With it being limited to Essex County, there is far less traveling than an Ontario birding Big Year. In fact, if 1,500 research-grade species is indeed possible for me in all of Essex County, I believe it could also be carried out within a 5km radius of my house in La Salle simply because of how rich that ecosystem is. Realistically, I’m likely to stray further away than that in search of bugs, but I imagine the 5km radius will be my focus.

The competition aspect also greatly differs from a birding Big Year. I don’t know that I’m directly competing with anyone in reality. I do expect to have the highest amount ever recorded on iNaturalist for Essex County, Ontario and might keep an eye on that, but more so I am competing against myself.

Unlike birding Big Years there is less precedence and protocol, but I will do what I can to follow some common sense guidelines. For the record I did want to make it clear that I will be including a few limited things that are not exactly a direct observation of an arthropod, for instance leaf mines and galls, which are sort of indirect observations.

Thank you for hearing me out here. I’m impressed that you reached the end of this article. It is February 17th now and I’ve made a modest start with 18 species (just over 1%). Not much, but to be fair, it’s still technically winter and there is snow on the ground today.

I hope to provide further updates in some fashion and we shall see where that goes.

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Publicado el febrero 17, 2023 09:07 TARDE por marknenadov marknenadov


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