Interested in natural history …. where to start?

Some readers will be aware that there is a local newspaper Thorne Times in which is a regular piece “Ramblings and nature notes of a bog-trotter”.  This blog posted a piece alerting readers of a Christmas Quiz and offered a set Limited Edition Prints as first prize with copies of An Inventory of the Invertebrates of Thorne & Hatfield Moors as runner up prizes.  The entries have all been marked and the prizes presented to the lucky winners …. see the forthcoming March edition of the Thorne Times (scheduled for distribution around 25th February).

What it did do was to introduce someone who was interested in the invertebrates of her neighbourhood to us.  In doing so it was also interesting to discover the difficulties this lady faced when trying to identify species she had photographed.  We all know that realistically there is no book available which can cover all the species likely to be encountered in England, there are many guides but they are generally to particular groups and again we all know the costs associated with the amassing of our own libraries.  So, is there an alternative option to secure identification?  iSpot claimed to be one such solution but that has had limited success despite a well intentioned remit.  Local Museums: can they help?  Are there any left?  Are there any left with any staff competent in identification of species of natural history interest?  Are there any left with any staff sufficiently au fait with the local and regional network to be able to signpost a member of the public to them in order to enthuse and empower?

There are many excellent websites which can assist identification, provided there is either a specimen or a series of good quality photographs available.  However, quite often a hand lens or microscope is needed and realistically the use of a good quality key.  But, in the interim and by way of illustrating just how the advances achieved through technology have helped generate some good records.

So, are blog readers able to offer suggestions to complement those offered below as tasters?

Aculeate hymenoptera: Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society

Ants: Identification key

Beetles: Beetle fauna of Germany (some excellent images of species occuring in the UK)  See also Mark Telfer’s website, an excellent resource.

Botany: Botanical Socirty of the British Isles

Butterflies: Including larval foodplants

Dragonflies & Damselflies: British Dragonfly Society

Diptera (true or two-winged flies): Dipterists Forum  See also Amateur Entomologists Society and

Ferns: Ferns in Britain & Ireland also includes horsetails, clubmosses and quillworts

Fungi: Mushrooms

Grasshoppers, crickets, earwigs and cockroaches: Orthoptera & allied insects recording scheme

Grasses, Sedges & Rushes: Excellent website also includes, trees & shrubs and ferns as well as wildflowers

Hemiptera: British Bugs  See also leafhoppers, planthoppers, treehoppers and cicadas.

Herptiles: Reptiles and amphibians see also ARG of UK 

Hoverflies: Recording scheme

Ichneumon Wasps: via

Insect larvae: Useful key for immature / larval stages of insects

Leafminers (British): A guide to leafmines made by Lepidoptera  

Lichens: The British Lichen Society  See also British Lichens

Mosses: British Bryological Society

Moths: UK Moths  See also UK Leps and Lepidoptera Dissection Group and for those requiring assistance for early stages of moth species, see also Field Tips

Slugs & Snails: The Conchological Society of GB & NI

Spiders: British Arachnological Society  See also Spiders of NW Europe and Eurospiders

Ticks: identification key

There you go for starters, a few useful websites to assist identification.  There are many excellent local and regional websites and blogs which offer excellent images as well as useful tips and information not found in the conventional field guides.  Perhaps that’s another blog post?

Inclusion of a website on this blog post does not infer endorsement.

If readers have any favourites they’d like to share then please provide links via


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