A few days ago I spotted a damselfly perching on a foxglove leaf, then it took off and came to rest on a nearby rose bush.I did not recognize it but by typing in a few keywords “damselfly black wings aqua blue,” Google soon revealed this visitor to be Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata). I used this information to create my first observation in iNaturalist, a “site and community for reporting personal observations of any plant or animal species in the world.” Pretty cool?
Under a crowdsourcing model, community members help identify or confirm the identification provided. There are many scientific research projects that rely on this data, so the data is assessed for quality by the community.
Because iNaturalist is primarily about observing wild organisms, when entering an observation the observer is asked to indicate whether the observed organism was captive/cultivated or wild/naturalized. Since this damselfly was seen in my garden setting, initially I chose captive/cultivated. With this designation the observation is marked as a “casual” observation. Scientists are not as interested in casual observations.
But after rereading the help topic I edited the observation and marked it wild/naturalized. The distinction is that while the rose was where the gardener intended it to be, this lovely Ebony Jewelwing was where it wanted to be.
Within a very short time after making this edit my damselfly observation was not only confirmed and assigned Research Grade status, it was also picked up and added to a project that is studying the location of migration routes of dragonflies. Exciting!
It will take some time to learn all about iNaturalist, but I hope to take advantage of it as a learning resource and eventually contribute more observations and help with identifications. How about you?