BugGuide (or BugGuide.net) is a website and online community of naturalists, both amateur and professional, who share observations of arthropods such as insects, spiders, and other related creatures.[1] The website consists of informational guide pages and many thousands of photographs of arthropods from the United States and Canada which are used for identification and research.[2] The non-commercial site is hosted by the Iowa State University Department of Entomology. BugGuide was conceived by photographer Troy Bartlett in 2003 and since 2006 has been maintained by John VanDyk, an adjunct assistant professor of entomology and a senior systems analyst at Iowa State University.[3] The website has been recognized for helping change public perception of insects.[4]

Type of site
Entomology, Citizen science
Available inEnglish
Area servedNorth America
OwnerIowa State University
Founder(s)Troy Bartlett
Registrationnot required, except to comment and post
Launched2003 (2003)
Current statusOnline

According to gardening author Margaret Roach, "The site is where naturalists of all levels share photos of 'insects, spiders and their kin' to foster enthusiasm and expand the knowledge base about these often-overlooked (and as BugGuide points out, 'oft-maligned') creatures."[5]

A Facebook group called BugGuide was created in 2008.[6] As of October 2020 it has 5,600 members.


According to VanDyk, BugGuide had over 809 million hits in 2010, averaging approximately 26 hits per second.[7] He also stated that in early 2011 the site consisted of almost 34,000 written pages representing about 23 percent of the estimated insect species in North America.[7] In April 2012 the guide surpassed 500,000 photos.[8] By October 2014, BugGuide had 30,774 species pages and 48,572 total pages, with over 808,718 images submitted by more than 27,846 contributors.[9] On 22 September 2014, BugGuide surpassed 1,000,000 pages (most of which are photographs).[10] As of December 2020, it has more than 1.3 million described species, plus many more undescribed.[11]

Contributions to science

The photographs posted have contributed to or resulted in several scientific publications. A large proportion of images featured in an atlas of vespid wasps[12] are credited to contributors to BugGuide.[13] BugGuide photographs have detected new state records of invasive pest ants and beetles.[14][15]

Geologist and moth collector Richard Wilson said of the site, "The BugGuide site is very useful for anyone finding an insect and it is very interactive on getting it identified if a picture can be taken."[16]

According to the site itself, BugGuide.net has been responsible for the identification of 11 new, previously undescribed species as of mid-2014. In addition, 12 species new to the Western Hemisphere were first identified via the site; another seven new to North America; and numerous new country records (primarily the United States) and state/county sightings.[17]


  1. "Discovering bugs and her passion". The Des Moines Register. July 31, 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  2. McCullough, Corinne; Worthington, Cakey; Paradise, Christopher J. (Fall 2013). "Using Digital Macrophotography to Measure Biodiversity, Identify Insects, and Enhance Outreach and Education". American Entomologist. 59 (3): 176–182. doi:10.1093/ae/59.3.176.
  3. "John VanDyk's Contributor Page" on BugGuide.Net.
  4. Ahern, Kevin (November 2009). "WebWatch – Done Buggy". BioTechniques. 47 (5): 909. doi:10.2144/000113266.
  5. Roach, Margaret (20 September 2012). "why i'm abuzz about bugguide.net". A Way to Garden. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  6. "BugGuide Public group". facebook. Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  7. Pounds, Diana (3 February 2011). "Five questions for John VanDyk" (PDF). Inside Iowa State. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  8. "BugGuide passes the half million mark". Iowa State University, Department of Entomology. May 2012. Archived from the original on 1 May 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
  9. "System Statistics". BugGuide. 6 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  10. "longhorned beetle - Stenocorus vittiger". BugGuide. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  11. "Info". BugGuide. Iowa State University. Retrieved 2020-12-02.
  12. Buck, Matthias; Marshall, Stephen A.; Cheung, David K.B. (19 February 2008). "Identification Atlas of the Vespidae (Hymenoptera, Aculeata) of the northeastern Nearctic region". Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification. 5. doi:10.3752/cjai.2008.05. ISSN 1911-2173.
  13. Marshall, Stephen A. (Winter 2008). "Field photography and the Democratization of Arthropod Taxonomy". American Entomologist. 54 (4): 207–210. doi:10.1093/ae/54.4.207.
  14. MacGown, J.A.; Hill, J.G. (2010). "Two new exotic pest ants, Pseudomyrmex gracilis and Monomorium floricola (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) collected in Mississippi" (PDF). Midsouth Entomologist. 3: 106–109. ISSN 1936-6019.
  15. Aalbu, Rolf L.; Kanda, Kojun; Steiner, Warren E. Jr. (April 2009). "Opatroides punctulatus Brullé now established in California (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae)". The Pan-Pacific Entomologist. 85 (2): 38–42. doi:10.3956/2008-24.1. S2CID 84913700.
  16. Gable, Cate (19 July 2011). "The Moth Man of Bay Center". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  17. "Bug Guide firsts list for Latin American Bug Guide project". BugGuide. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
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