13 July, 2021

Cicadas of Ontario

Ontario has 10 species of cicadas. They are quite easy to identify by song, but a bit more challenging by sight. This guide includes audio as well as range information and details for identifying all of them from photos. I hope it is helpful!

Thanks to input from a couple cicada experts and others interested in Ontario cicadas for helping improve the guide.

Please let me know if you see any mistakes or have any suggestions!

Posted on 13 July, 2021 15:29 by upupa-epops upupa-epops | 7 comments | Leave a comment

29 March, 2021

Resources for identifying dandelions to section

British Columbia paper cataloguing overlooked dandelion diversity:

Key here: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/overlooked-dandelion-diversity-in-bc-and-everywhere-in-north-america/3808/54 / https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1139/cjb-2018-0094#page=4

Appressed: Laying flat against
Corniculate: Having a knob or horn (at the end of a bract)
Cyprela: Seed
Involucre: Bracts around the base of the flower
Glaucous: Pale greyish, maybe waxy or powdery coating
Hamate: Hooked at the tip
Crisped: Edge of leaf curled or ruffled
Rugose: Rough or wrinkled surface, e.g. creases from veins underneath the leaf
Oblanceolate: With a wide end of the leaf and tapering towards a thin base of the leaf (opposite of lanceolate)
Obovate: Egg-shaped, with the wide end at the end of the leaf
Capitula: Flower head
Ligule: The petal part of a ray flower's florets
Abaxial: On the underside or outside

More images of specimens examined for the paper here: https://morphobank.org/index.php/Projects/Media/project_id/3346

Going through the sections in the paper

More terms
arachnoid: Covered with thin soft hairs or fibres
strigillose: Covered with stiff thin bristles
sagittate: Shaped like an arrowhead
ampliate: Having a prominent outer edge
heterophyllous: Having multiple kinds of leaves
dentate: With toothlike projections

British dandelions (note that section Ruderalia is now considered section Taraxacum while what they refer to as Taraxacum is now Crocea I think)

Rest of Europe

Victoria, Australia https://vicflora.rbg.vic.gov.au/flora/taxon/6cfc234d-fbd2-4e23-8a3b-24b71daaeeff
1985 designation of new type specimen in section Crocea https://www.jstor.org/stable/1222201 then 2011 designation of new type in section Ruderalia https://www.jstor.org/stable/41059837 (causing changes of definitions where those sections are respectively renamed section Taraxacum)
FNA: http://floranorthamerica.org/Taraxacum
Section Palustria in Ontario... https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274251093

Basically you need good photos of the leaves from early in the year (April/May?), side/underside of the flower, and whether or not there is pollen on the stigmas. It seems helpful to measure the dimensions of the outer bracts (length and width).

Curious to see if anyone tries this stuff out. I don't have any good observation to try out yet since they're all from regularly mown grass or from in the summer...

Posted on 29 March, 2021 11:29 by upupa-epops upupa-epops | 9 comments | Leave a comment

26 June, 2020

Cicada Songs of Ontario

8 species of cicada have been observed on iNaturalist from Ontario: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=6883&subview=grid&taxon_id=50190&view=species

Sorted within genus by number of observations. Both genera are in family Cicadidae.


Canadian Cicada (O. canadensis)

  • Constant slow, low, clicky buzz

Say's Cicada (O. rimosa)

  • Much faster, higher constant buzz
  • Compare Lyric

Niagara Cicada (O. noveboracensis)

  • Similar to Canadian but higher-pitched
  • Niagara region-Hamilton


Northern Dog-day Cicada (N. canicularis)

  • High whiny drone, slowly increasing in volume before rapidly fading out
  • Compare Linne's, Lyric, Swamp

Linne's Cicada (N. linnei)

  • Lower consistent whiny buzz, with distinct pulsating bursts in middle third of song
  • Pulsations not increasing in frequency and volume intensely like Swamp

Lyric Cicada (N. lyricen)

  • Like Linne's but without pulsating sections
  • perhaps most similar to Say's, but lower, slower, and more... gurgled?

Scissor-grinder Cicada (N. pruinosus)

  • Repeated short bursts of high, whiny drone
  • Described as "weeoo-weeoo-weeoo-..."

Swamp Cicada (N. tibicen)

  • High pitched crescendo with distinct loud pulsations increasing to a rapid frequency
  • Hybrid of the songs of Northern Dog-day and Linne's, but with the pulsation unlike Northern Dog-day and without the long unpulsated sections that Linne's has

Visual ID

(I just made up the name "Niagara Cicada" for O. noveboracensis but I think it fits pretty well)
Posted on 26 June, 2020 03:22 by upupa-epops upupa-epops | 0 comments | Leave a comment

07 May, 2020

Guide to Condylostylus of Ontario

These are super common and I felt it would be useful to have something to reference to know what angles to get photos of for identification. I started working on this a while ago but just finished adding some suggestions. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or feedback!

Posted on 07 May, 2020 23:10 by upupa-epops upupa-epops | 9 comments | Leave a comment

04 May, 2020

Calligrapha of Ontario

Work in progress - Ontario is the most biodiverse state/province for this genus in North America
Next step: add host plants

Species List
24 species

Subgenus Bidensomela

Subgenus Coreopsomela

Subgenus Calligrapha

(in adjacent provinces/states)

  • praecelsis (subg. Acalligrapha, MB)
  • incisa (subg. Calligrapha, MB)

Summary of Calligrapha in North America https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267420956_New_Distribution_Records_and_Biogeography_of_Calligrapha_Species_Leaf_Beetles_in_North_America_Coleoptera_Chrysomelidae_Chrysomelinae

Specimen images on BOLD http://v3.boldsystems.org/index.php/TaxBrowser_Taxonpage?taxid=7937

Description of C. suturella https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232671770_Diagnosing_an_Overlooked_North_American_Taxon_Biological_Observations_and_Mitochondrial_Insights_on_Calligrapha_suturella_Schaeffer_New_Status_Coleoptera_Chrysomelidae

Key to Calligrapha of Atlantic Canada

Checklist of Canadian species http://www.canacoll.org/Coleo/Checklist/PDF%20files/CHRYSOMELIDAE.pdf#page=13

Overview of scalaris group https://mczbase.mcz.harvard.edu/specimen_images/publications/Breviora_541.pdf

A Review of the North American Chrysomeline Leaf Beetles (1972, Calligrapha begins page 6) https://bugguide.net/node/view/255566

Posted on 04 May, 2020 19:08 by upupa-epops upupa-epops | 0 comments | Leave a comment

21 April, 2020

Julida Millipedes of Ontario and nearby areas with links to resources

yet another work in progress...



Ophyiulus pilosus



  • Okeanobates americanus



  • bollmani
  • paludicolens
    Oriulus venustus

  • canadensis
  • stolidus

General Resources:
Guide to millipedes of Ohio https://ohiodnr.gov/static/documents/wildlife/backyard-wildlife/Millipedes+of+Ohio+Pub+5527.pdf
1987 checklist for eastern Canada https://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/pdf/10.1139/z88-239#page=5
British guide http://www.bmig.org.uk/checklist/millipede-checklist
1958 checklist https://repository.si.edu/handle/10088/10042
Hoffman 1999 checklist https://www.fieldmuseum.org/sites/default/files/hoffman_checklist_1999.pdf

Posted on 21 April, 2020 17:38 by upupa-epops upupa-epops | 0 comments | Leave a comment

05 April, 2020

Nature at Home

A couple weekends ago I participated in a friendly competition with members of the unofficial iNaturalist Discord server to see who could find the most species only on their own property. I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to find new species while restricted to a suburban yard and I think I did pretty well! Most of the plants had not started coming up yet, and many of these species could be seen on a warm day in the middle of the winter. I'm curious how many more species I could get in the summer with the use of a moth light etc.

Thanks to many identifiers I have over 85 leaves for the weekend, so in addition to 16 bird species I heard and noted on eBird I recorded over 100 species. You can see my observations from the challenge here and the project in general here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/inaturalist-discord-march-weekendblitz-2020

The highlights for me were getting:

  • At least 5 species of millipedes
  • At least 4 species of isopods
  • 4 species of slugs
  • A huge (relatively speaking) soil centipede that I'd never seen before
  • Two flatworms
  • A pseudoscorpion

Thank you to the Discord server mods for organizing this and to everyone else who participated, particularly @erininmd and @tammym4748 for keeping the competition up!

Posted on 05 April, 2020 20:43 by upupa-epops upupa-epops | 2 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

01 February, 2020

Figuring out Condylostylus in Ontario

These shiny little green flies are super common and easy to see on sunny leaves. They're a chore to identify though...

Relevant project: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/condylostylus-of-north-america

Similar genera: https://bugguide.net/node/view/12491
Key down to groups here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/42317

C. patibulatus easily identifiable by large size, patterned wings, all black legs. Common.

caudatus group very common - small, short antennae, yellow on legs, unmarked wings
Females not identifiable to species: https://bugguide.net/node/view/1775592/bgimage
Species in or near Ontario on BugGuide:

sipho group large size, patterned wings, yellow legs?
https://bugguide.net/node/view/479158, https://bugguide.net/node/view/1706755/bgimage

comatus group - small?, long antennae

brimleyi, albicoxa, viridicoxa in Ohio on GBIF? https://www.gbif.org/occurrence/taxonomy?has_coordinate=true&has_geospatial_issue=false&taxon_key=1610262&geometry=POLYGON((-90.60724%2039.67862,-62.45028%2039.67862,-62.45028%2050.92862,-90.60724%2050.92862,-90.60724%2039.67862))

Posted on 01 February, 2020 16:49 by upupa-epops upupa-epops | 1 comment | Leave a comment

11 January, 2020


I joined iNaturalist in 2017. I still have a lot of stuff from 2019 to post but it's definitely been a great year! Highlights were a trip to Algonquin Park in February and a trip to Florida in December. From my stats I got more species in 2017 thanks to a summer job but I had a lot of cool experiences in 2019, and maybe 2019 will catch up with the backlog. I also passed 3000 observations and 1000 species last year!

Target species:

Right now I'm especially interested in getting more into plants and underwater animals.

My photos on eBird: https://ebird.org/media/canada/catalog?mediaType=p&sort=obs_date_desc&searchField=user&userId=USER350975

Thank you to everyone for such a great community!

Posted on 11 January, 2020 15:53 by upupa-epops upupa-epops | 2 comments | Leave a comment

19 December, 2019

Identifying Allograpta in North America

Allograpta is a genus of hover flies with 2 species common in the US. At first glance they look pretty similar but I think after learning how to distinguish them they’re relatively easy from most observations. And there are a lot of observations of them as they’re very common.

The species are Allograpta obliqua and A. exotica. A. obliqua is common pretty much everywhere in North America, while A. exotica is common mostly in the southern half of the US (I think both are common in Central and South America, but there are lots of other Allograpta species there). Florida also has the very distinctive Allograpta radiata. The most similar genera to Allograpta in North America are Fazia, Sphaerophoria, and Toxomerus.

The most reliable feature to separate the 2 common Allograpta species is a section of the thorax called the katepimeron. In A. obliqua it is white, while in A. exotica it is black. It’s located about halfway between the base of the wings and the base of the middle and hind legs. It's marked with arrows in this image: https://bugguide.net/node/view/757809 (note that the face stripe mentioned there is not reliable for separating them).
Here are photos of each species as well to compare:

Unfortunately most observations don’t show the katepimeron, but they almost always show the abdomen pattern. There are some features there that can generally be used to separate the species (copied from here):

  1. 2 narrow yellow bands/triangles near the base of tergite 2 (basically the very base of the abdomen) narrowing out towards the centre (present in obliqua, absent in exotica so that the base of T2 is all black).
  2. Narrow yellow band along the entire base of tergite 4 (obliqua has it, exotica does not).
  3. The “leaf-shaped” spots on the side of tergite 4 are usually closer to parallel to the centre pair of stripes, whereas in exotica they are usually closer to 45* or more away from them (exotica also has these spots connected to the centre pair of stripes like this more often, but both can have that).
  4. obliqua seems to often have more orangey-yellow stripes, whereas exotica often has more creamy or whiter yellow stripes.

That probably sounds complicated, but once you get an idea of what it looks like it’s not that bad. Just try to make sure most of those features are in alignment. The first image is a pretty clear A. obliqua, while the second one is a pretty clear A. exotica:


They are variable and there are some that are intermediate, but I think most are identifiable. You can get an idea of the variation possible within each species by looking through their image galleries:
Allograpta obliqua
Allograpta exotica

And finally, in Mexico 3 more species have been observed on iNaturalist:

If you’re interested in helping identify these, here is a filter for all Needs ID observations of the genus in Canada and the US: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify?taxon_id=118969&place_id=1%2C6712
Or all of North America: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify?taxon_id=118969&place_id=97394
If you want clarification on anything, please don’t hesitate to ask here or tag me in an observation. Feel free to skip over any that you’re not sure about. Please also let me know if I should correct anything here.

(copied for the most part from this forum post)

Posted on 19 December, 2019 16:17 by upupa-epops upupa-epops | 3 comments | Leave a comment