With an estimated 5.5 million named species, insects are the most diverse group of animals on the planet. Without insects, our lives would be vastly different, as insects provide many key services to humans and their environments like pollination of plants, natural pest control, and nutrient recycling.

According to the Smithsonian Institute, honeybees alone are responsible for 80% of pollination in the United States. Insects also recycle dead plant and animal materials around us by decomposing them into simpler materials that plants and algae can use to grow. Unfortunately, around 40% of insect species are declining globally. With insect populations declining worldwide, widespread action to protect them is becoming increasingly important. 

Conservation requires more than the individual perspective of trained scientists. This is where community science, a collaboration between scientists and volunteers who are curious about the natural world around them, comes in handy. Conservation community science might involve taking pictures of animals and plants around you and documenting them in apps such as iNaturalist or PlantSnap. By recording your observations with the app, you are also helping scientists track species across the world, as iNaturalist shares your findings with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. 

One small way you can help protect insects is by documenting those in your area through community science initiatives. All you need is a smartphone and a bit of patience.  

TESI has its own community science campaign on iNaturalist, an app and website that helps users identify the flora and fauna around them by providing species identification suggestions and a community to confirm or deny the identification. The goal of TESI’s iNaturalist project “The Insect Effect BioBlitz,” is to document as many insect species as possible across Florida. So far, The Insect Effect Bioblitz has had 24,457 observations from 45 observers across the state! The species with the most observations include the monarch butterfly, the eastern lubber grasshopper, and the gulf fritillary butterfly.

Visit our Facebook Insect Effect Bioblitz event page to learn more about how to participate.

Some tips for taking pictures include: 

  • Pick optimal weather conditions like warm, slightly overcast evenings or early mornings. 
  • Keep your eyes peeled and look for locations that insects frequent (ex: ponds, pollinator gardens, etc.). 
  • Approach the insects slowly by taking pictures from a distance and gradually moving in for a better angle. 
  • Beware of your shadow because sudden changes in light can spook your insect subject. 
  • If the insect is moving, try using the burst mode on your phone’s camera to get lots of shots in quick succession. 


To learn more about how you can protect the insects, visit our Insect Effect page.

Information from National Geographic, TESI Insect Effect Page, and Simply Wild Photos.