Friday 5: Get Involved in Insect Science

I am in the middle of collecting data for my citizen science project focusing on dragonfly swarming behaviors.  You are probably all aware that I really, really love this project!  It’s fantastic getting so many people involved in science.  FANTASTIC!  And, people can do science with very little effort when they participate in my project.  However, little work on their end means big results for me, so I am always thrilled when people choose to participate.  I couldn’t be happier with the experience!  So, this week I have gathered up some links to other insect related citizen science projects.  If any of you non-scientists out there have ever wanted to get involved in science, you might want to check out one of these projects!  Your help allows scientists to do some pretty amazing research projects, many of which would be impossible without help from people just like you.  Plus, they’re a lot of fun to do!  Here are some of my favorites:

Cloeomegilla maculata

I saw this awesome ladybug a few years ago!

Lost Ladybug Project

The goal of the Lost Ladybug Project is to track the changes in distributions of ladybugs of North America.  The project managers (there are a lot of them!) hope to determine where ladybugs are currently living and how big their populations are.  Ladybug populations have dropped across North America over the past few decades, but no one really knows why.  With the data they collect, the Lost Ladybug Project team hopes to discover why populations are changing so that they can prevent the loss of ladybug species in the future.  The project is great for kids and their website has a ton of excellent information to help you get started.  Check it out by clicking the link above!

flame skimmer

Flame skimmer I spotted in my front yard last summer.

Submit Your Photos/Sightings!

There are several different groups that gather photos or sightings of plants and/or animals to create big searchable databases online.  These sites are often excellent resources for identifying organisms in your area that you are unfamiliar with, but you can also really help others and researchers by submitting photos or sightings.  It is very easy to get involved in these projects!  Some of my favorites, ones that I use often or take part in myself, are:

Encyclopedia Of Life: an organization aiming to document all life on earth
Project NOAH: similar to the Encyclopedia of Life in many ways, but they encourage people to submit photos of animals and plants they’ve sighted via smart phones.  I’ve got the Project NOAH app on my iPhone!  It’s fun to use t00, so it’s very easy to take part in Project NOAH.
Odonata Central
: EXCELLENT site for dragonfly/damselfly identification! They accept photos of odonates sighted around the world to improve their maps and the documentation of species.
Butterflies and Moths of North America: Like Odonata Central, except the focus is on Lepidoptera, and only in North America.


Firefly. Image from link above.

Firefly Watch

This project is similar to my own project!  The team behind this project hopes to document firefly distributions during their active period during the summer.  They hope to determine where fireflies are located and whether human activities, such as pesticide use or home lighting, impact firefly activity.  Participating in this project is very easy.  Simply look for fireflies in your yard during the summer and fill out an observation form when you see them.  You can get started by visiting the link above!


An invasive crayfish. Image from link above.


Not exactly insects, but crayfish are close relatives and very important in many aquatic systems.  Native crayfish are becoming scarce in some areas and devastating invasive pests in others.  The goal of Craywatch is to document the spread of invasive crayfish.  If you happen to live in a place like Arizona, where we have no native crayfish and all of our crayfish are invasive, you can really contribute a lot to this project!  Find out more at the link above.

fast flowing, cold water

Me sampling aquatic insects in an AZ stream

Water Surveys

Lots of different organizations need help surveying the aquatic insects in streams and lakes and seek citizen scientists for help!  There are many opportunities to participate in stream surveys in many different areas.  They include Jug Bug, WaterWorx Bug Hunts, CAMP, Louden Stream Monitoring,  WV Save Our Streams Program, Changing Currents, and OPAL Water Survey.  These projects are often great for kids, though they are sometimes a little time intensive and can involve work in rather remote locations.  However, it’s great fun mucking about in the water and pulling aquatic insects out, so they are great projects to get involved with if you have any interest at all in aquatic insects.

Citizen scientist projects are becoming more and more common now that nearly everyone has access to the internet!  The list here represents only a tiny handful of the citizen science projects that insect lovers can get involved with.  If you want to look at some of the other opportunities available, I encourage you to check out  It’s a great site that gathers many different citizen science projects together in one place.  And, they even have a whole category for insect projects!  Getting involved in citizen science is fun ans easy, so I hope you’ll consider participating!


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2 thoughts on “Friday 5: Get Involved in Insect Science

  1. Nice topic. There are a few more citizen science projects that are I’ve run across that are very useful. One is looking at snail homing behavior:; Dr. Paul Weston’s work with the viburnum leaf beetle (an exotic introduction) movement in N. America;; and a still relatively new and limited but potentially very important invasives mapping project, IMapInvasives, Hoping scientists can continue to help guide some of our very knowledgeable and dedicated volunteers out there to help us while resources continue to shrink.

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