Reddit "What's this bug?" group solves problem that's really been bugging me

Subreddit helps professional and amateur entomologists together in the pursuit of IDing insects and bugs

While my morning/day/night job is news editor for Network World, one of my avocations is finding, catching and taking pictures of insects.

[No, it's not true that I have more pictures of bugs than of my kids despite what some relatives might say, though as you can see at the bottom of this post, I sometimes combine the two.]

And while I know more about insects than the average tech news editor, I won't claim to know all the names (and even fewer of the Latin names) of our six-legged friends. But an awful lot of people on Reddit's "What's this Bug?" subreddit, which I only recently discovered, do (the subreddit has attracted a "colony" of 18,000 members).

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Bugs vs. Insects

This subreddit solves a problem I've had for years: I take a picture of an insect or bug (not the software kind), then try to figure out what it is, first consulting my handy trail guides, then fishing around the Internet. I've tried promising services like Google image search, but the results are generally disappointing.

Spring Fishfly

For example, I spotted this lovely lady on our front door the other night in suburban Massachusetts, where the temperatures hovered in the 60s. I knew it was some of fly, and figured it might even be river-borne given where our house is situated, but couldn't figure out what it was. I did a Google image search and here was my result.

Huh?

But then I stumbled across the "What's This Bug?" subreddit and almost immediately sparked a little discussion, as Redditors narrowed down the possibilities from Dobsonfly to Stonefly, finally settling on Spring Fishfly, which is almost certainly correct based on other examples found around the web on scientific pages.

Here are a couple more critters I've spotted over the past year, the first an Aquatic True Bug and the second an Ichneumon Wasp. I learned of their identities in a little more old-fashioned way: emailing the Cambridge Entomological Club.

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