insect i.d.
Location:  Shelbyville, IN Midwest
September 22, 2010 1:57 pm
i have a green stinkgug-monarch butterfly-very tiny caterpillar-black hard shelled thin lined shape in the middle-where can i find scientific names 4 these? My son has a science project on insects.
Signature:  Thank you, Amy McClellan

Dear Amy,
With all due respect, we will not do your child’s homework, nor should you.  We are not in the habit of giving parenting advice, but we recommend that you have your son search our archives using our search engine, or visit BugGuide to research his own answers.  It is better that he fail now than later in life when there is no one available to do his work for him.

47 Responses to What's That Bug? will not do your child's homework

  1. SOMETHING says:

    That sounded pretty rude… You could have at least gave her the scientific names.

    • bugman says:

      Dear SOMETHING,
      Many things get lost in translation, and perhaps you have a different understanding of the term “rude” than that of our editorial staff. Our unabridged dictionary defines rude as “lacking delicacy or refinement; boorish; ungentle; unpolished; … uncivil or impolite in manner or action; insulting; impudent ….” We responded in a respectful manner and we advised the parent on some potential sources for the desired information. Plain and simple, not doing one’s own school work is cheating. As an experiment, we cut and pasted the names in the request into google and did a search. Here is what we found. Green stinkgug actually produced a desired result. See: The first result is Wikipedia and it actually corrected the spelling error, turning “gug” into “bug” and then providing the scientific name Chinavia hilare. Featured Creatures provides another scientific name Chinavia halaris. Another Featured Creatures page identified a different species, the Southern Green Stink Bug as Nezara viridula. Many, many more results are available with that one search. Moving on to monarch butterfly, at least three sites in the initial google search provided the scientific name Danais plexippus. Finally, “very tiny caterpillar-black hard shelled thin lined shape in the middle” is far too vague for us to provide any assistance, but google images nonetheless provides many visual choices. We provide a free service and we reserve the right to choose which requests we research. Our time is much too precious to respond to every desperate plea from parents and students, even through to the college level, because they are too lazy or they procrastinated. We stand by our conviction not to do other people’s homework. If that makes us rude, so be it.

      • I know how to define rude says:

        As a teacher I think it’s noble to refuse to simply provide answers to those looking for the easy way out and not looking to take the road less traveled (and that road seems to be traveled less and less as time goes on). I know how to define “Rude” as well as your editorial staff, and your responses have been the very definition of rude. She simply asked if you could help her to identify certain insects, or tell her where she can find a resource that could assist her with these particular insects. Initially, it sounded as though she was looking for a push in the right direction, and not to be handed the answers. I also understand you don’t have time to answer all the questions shot your way. What I don’t understand, if your staff is so over worked, and you must carefully pick and choose who you could be the most helpful to, which I’m sure is a daunting task, why publish Kim’s question with your rude, snotty, comment? Wasn’t there a question that were more worthy of your time? No doubt it was for the sole purpose of standing on your soap box to preach! At the time of her initial question, you had no idea, admittedly neither did I, what her intent was. It sounded to me as though she was a parent just trying to help her child, of unknown age or cognitive ability at the time she asked for your assistance, and not necessarily do the work for him. Aren’t parents supposed to try and help their children with their studies when they can, all in the name of taking interest in what their children are doing? I would be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that mother’s time is twice as precious as yours, which not only makes you rude, it also makes you arrogant. Thank you for providing this free service, it’s a shame I will never use it again, and I will delete your site from my handout of acceptable online resources that I provide to my students at the beginning of each semester.

        • Bob says:

          ER NO!!!
          A parent ‘helping’ the child with homework would consist of the request, followed by any research that had been carried out and a request for basic pointers.
          Simply asking for the names of the insects and stating that it was homework, is just crass .
          That sort of parenting should at least be trying to teach the child the art of deception , by removing “it is homework” from the question.
          At least the kid is learning the life skills needed to get others to do their work for them.

        • Bugs no Bunny says:

          These people get really nasty when they think they can get someone on line to dig up the information THEY should be finding themselves. I look at thousands of pictures and tons of sites trying to identify the local things I see. Only as a last resort do I ask for help. This is a very nice, informative site with many photos. He should have attempted to identify as many as possible not just say “identify these for me”. YOU are not bound to provide any information at all especially not do anyone’s work. I don’t see anything rude in your answer. Classic case of trying to make you the bad guy when HE is the rude inappropriate one. Good for you!!

          • bugman says:

            Thank you for your support.

          • Darlene says:

            Yay for you, Bugman. I’m on YOUR side about NOT doing a student’s research project for him/her and then having to define what being rude is when you were NOT being rude. Kids now-a-days! Parents now-a-days!!!

          • bugman says:

            Thanks for your perspective Darlene. We just received a comment on another posting that called us out for making fun of a dumb question.

      • noel cathey says:

        hi i have to stand by your decision with mom doing childs homework– my daughter did this with her son- who has auzbergers— he is 25 and stilll can not read or write- but got honors in most improved etc etc etc– it is so sad- he did not understand anything- hated school and 25 years ago thec urrriculum was just beginning to realise that integration was not needed for special ed kids- so they were isolated with special assistants to be sure they went to the bathroom etc etc etc. in s, the principal took their money, and used it for new uniforms for the football team.. blah blah — i found a skimmer in my bathtub– i need to id it– so here i go– this is for me—– aaack. mother nature is sooo confused this year—

  2. Spars with Mantids says:

    Brilliantly done! Not rude in any way. Well known as it should be that the ones who run this site do so of their own volition, their time must also be divided amongst any number of other tasks per day, noting that they have few personnel only makes things harder. That being the case I believe it was all in fairness to rightly refuse to help in this case, especially when simpler solutions could be found on large search engines that did not end up wasting someones time. Better it will be for a child/adolescent to learn how to stand on their own two feet now than be dependent on another for years to come.

  3. Xyzzy says:

    Obviously the parent shouldn’t be doing his/her kid’s homework, let alone asking a stranger to give them the answers. From what I have read, parental overhelp is an increasingly common problem caused by kids being given mountains of homework even in early elementary school. So while the parent shouldn’t have asked, the chances are that the kid in question is already doing more than we did at a similar age.

    I agree with WTB not supplying the answers and making a public statement on the topic to deter future visitors from asking. That said, the wording/tone *was* quite a bit harsher than it needed to be, and doing it by holding the parent up by name as an example to others showed a serious lack of class. It would be a good idea to add a note on any contact pages for the site stating that WTB will not supply homework answers to parents or students in order to avoid further unpleasantness.

  4. Considering that you do this work and keep us informed for free on your own time I think your answer was just fine. It was an insulting request, whether she realized it or not.

    I am a web designer. If someone emailed me via my contact form saying Little johnny was having some problem with his design and could I fix it for him, I would likely have given a similar answer.

    Nobody asks plumbers or electricians or doctors for free advice and work, either.

    • bugman says:

      Thank you for your support Sharon. Some days find us and our responses a bit feistier than on other days, and on the day we wrote that response, we were unusually ornery. That said, we probably would have thought it regardless of when it was responded, but our courtesy filter was obviously turned off when we first read the request. Since we work in higher education, we are struck more each year by the sense of entitlement that seems to be growing among college students. In the Age of the Internet and Global Interconnectivity, information is just a click away, and when there is an opportunity to interface with a real individual, the door is open to making demands.

  5. Vanessa says:

    Monarch Butterfly? They really can’t even make the effort on finding that name all on their own? Finding that name would have been easier than finding this website if they even bothered to try. The problem is that they didn’t even bother to try.
    I think your response was absolutely spot on and as nicely put as was appropriate.
    If someone can find their way to the What’s That Bug website – they can just as easily find their way to Wikipedia, BugGuide, Google Image Search, and the dozens of other avenues available to try and narrow down the names that they are trying to obtain. If you have found yourself here then it is safe to say that you are fairly computer literate.
    Unfortunately, I would like to see their side but I cannot – the last time I did homework, the internet didn’t even exist. And look at how many people managed to do okay and graduate? Even with a world of information and resources at our fingertips – there are still some people who want others to spoon feed them the information. I don’t blame anyone for refusing to do that.
    One of the most important skills that every single child needs to develop is how to be resourceful and the internet makes that absolutely dead easy to boot. The most successful adults in the world are often the most resourceful ones as well. They certainly didn’t go through life with everyone just giving them all the answers that they needed. It is ridiculous for anyone to suggest that it is better to give children all the answers they need instead of teaching them how to be resourceful.

  6. Shirley of NY says:

    I agree with you. All that had to be done is to Search up on a search engine; What is the scientific name of (Fill in with bug name.) I feel it is worth the time to take to learn something new, and exciting!

  7. 1stproject16 says:

    I think it is ok not to have told her, she could just look ’em up on this website, but she took a shortcut. Or, you could have given her the latin family names, and let her and her son look up the actual insects name instead. People will not learn to figure stuff our if we spoon feed them all of the time.
    On the other hand, it is cool that they are doing a science project on insects, and we want to encourage that. Josiah

  8. Sun says:

    Yes, the response was rude. I admit I got a chuckle when I read the headliner, because I do agree with bugman, especially as a scientist. However, the lady simply asked for a resource on where the scientific names could be found. I also am a parent and professor, and know some people simply have no idea where to start looking for information on bugs. You could very easily have encouraged her son to do his own work by giving them a reason to find bugs fascinating. Or, perhaps, a few ID guides, since she already knew some by common names. Take your own advice- stick to bug ID and leave the parenting advice at the door.

  9. Since this all happened five years ago, I think we should all just let this die. Little Johnny is probably in university by now. In any case, the main point here is that this is a VOLUNTEER website. No one is paid to do it. And to be asked for information for free is an insult to a professional. As mentioned before, I wonder how far you would get with your local plumber if you asked for free work?
    Happy summer, everyone.

    • bugman says:

      Thanks for your support Sharon. Members of our editorial staff are college professors and submitting work completed by anyone other than the student is a violation of the student code of conduct and could result in a failing grade for the project.

  10. llltappNPmadness says:

    Hi, I’m new to this site. I am by no means a bug expert, I’m a nurse practitioner who has a bug PHOBIA. So I have become an amateur bug looker upper and have become kind of fascinated. I am also the parent of a 16 year old girl and two mid-twenties sons who are in the military since they were 18.

    You were not only RIGHT but honorable in your answer to this mom. She absolutely is a helicopter parent (I know because I used to be one and my son happens to be a chopper pilot in the army LOL).

    She thinks she is “helping” her son. But, as my husband, a former military training leader in the USAF always says… “you aren’t raising a child, you are raising an adult.” I always add “what you permit, you promote.”

    Not only is she doing for him what he could do for himself, but the underlying message he gets is “I”m too stupid, she thinks I am not capable, she wants to live my life for me because I can’t navigate it on my own.” Of course that’s not the intent, but “we judge ourselves by our intention, others judge us by our actions.” OK, no more quotes lol.

    And, BTW, you were not only very polite to her, you even went a step further and offered her son places to start his search. GOOD JOB!


    • bugman says:

      Thanks so much for your perspective backed up by personal experience. We did mention in our response that we did not normally give parenting advice, and since our editorial staff does not have children, sometimes it is difficult to put ourselves in a parent’s place. Thanks again for your comment.

  11. Hale K says:

    I don’t feel that what was said was rude. It was an opinion and a great one at that. Everyone knows parents are the arrogant ones as they are too preoccupied with their offspring to fully perceive other people. The only way to make this opinion less rude sounding would be to avoid the use of the word “you.” People don’t mind it as much when if I talk about parenting in general (even if I’m obviously talking about them), but if I specifically refer to their parenting it becomes more condescending. This works great with all difficult people because I never have to feel guilty for telling them what to do. My friend who is a licensed social worker told me about this – very simple but effective communication tool.

    • bugman says:

      Thanks for the tip. We here at What’s That Bug? try to be personable, but the instance cited is a good example for when a little distance goes a long way.

  12. Ada Acid says:

    Haha, great reply! I never had anyone do my homework for me either(especially if it was biology or science, i enjoyed to do the research myself), let alone my parents. By doing his tasks by himself, the kid will learn how to handle situations better in life on his own and not depending of his mother. In this time where internet is available to everyone finding out something like this on his own shouldnt even be a problem.

  13. Shelly L says:

    Honestly I didnt see anywhere in Amy McClellan’s question a request to have answers handed to her. Or her son. She said where can “I find” the scientific names for these. And she may not have been doing his homework for him, but rather looking for a resource for him to use. I believe the appropriate response ( if any at all) would have been to refer her to your database or even google. But without the nastiness and accusations that were hurled at her. That was completely unnecessary.

    • bugman says:

      Our exact recommendations was: “that you have your son search our archives using our search engine, or visit BugGuide to research his own answers.”

    • Daniel says:

      I agree with Shelly. I really like this site but this particular post grinds my gears a little. You could have linked to bugguide without saying anything about what was “better” for her son.

      Although, every time I read the post, it seems less and less harsh. I’ll just read it until it sounds nice.

  14. Mish says:

    As a teacher and mother, I applaud your response and the logical reasoning behind it. Quite frankly, it feels refreshing to see educators promoting high standards/ethics for the learning process, of which research is a vital component.

  15. Simon says:

    Dear WTB ,
    The preceding posts are a great example of how instant communications such as this can lead to a little controversy. I read somewhere that the 1950s generation were taught to write a draft note, go on with something else, and then come back to it in a few hours or the next day to adjust it before sending it , regardless of whether it was a love letter, a business letter or a letter to grandma. In this way the note ‘matures’ in the writer’s mind and the original feeling behind the note is tempered, if needed, as well as catching any obvious mistakes.
    Regarding your original post. I thought the tone was indeed a bit sharp, particularly if the mother was a little tentative toward academic things, and it may have put her off further engagement. However, you already admitted your fault in being a little stressed that day. On the other hand, some of the protesting responses took that sharpness and raised it a level or two!
    A website designer could easily incorporate a ‘holding tray’ where responses are held over until the next day to give a final perusal before sending. (Check out )
    Finally, THANK YOU for all the great work here. I’ve only recently become re-interested in entomology since childhood. This place seems to be a real beehive of activity!

    Sincerely, Simon

  16. Dave says:

    I guess what stands out to me is that the parent didn’t actually ask for the names, she asked “where she could find them”. She could, therefore, have been intending to point her child in whatever direction was suggested by the website author.

    Perhaps it still makes sense to withhold this information – the kid ought to learn how to use The Google after all – but then again sometimes one gets a bewildering array of possible sources and is inclined to ask an expert which source is the best one.

  17. Who is to say what is rude. In some cultures, avoiding eye contact is rude. In other cultures, direct eye contact is rude. I’d say, share information as best as you are able and for as long as it brings you joy, (mostly that seems to describe you). Let Miss Manners sort out the fine points of social niceties.

    By the way I was led to your site while looking more deeply into the one of the wasp mimic clearwing moths, which was a share from my sister-in-law. Whacky wonderful .
    Glen, Olympia WA

  18. Laura Martin says:

    Wow. Mom was probably raised the same way. I remember using encyclopedias and spending hours in the school library to do research. The internet is an amazing tool. But we should all use it by looking up the info we need. Not just asking folks to give me the answer to this or that. Sorry you had to deal with that. Thank you for providing a fun and informational website. I’ve enjoyed it.

  19. Matt says:

    mwahhahahaha this lady got what she deserved! years worth of petty criticism! she is obviously not a bug scholar and doesn’t deserve answers from the great and mighty lords of bug enthusiasm. know your place, ye peasants of bug science. if bugs are what you seek, you must first become the bugs. only then will your essence be deserving of the all powerful bug blog. mwaaahahahahahahahaha

    • Igor L says:

      Yes, indeed. Muahuahuahuuahuahuahuahauh! The bug masters do not allow such insolence. Bow before the tomes of the bug lords! Your poorly-parented child’s lack of bug know-how is no match for our superior insect intellects. Fear the locusts that you know not!! No information will be disseminated from our massive bug archives through this channel. All information must be sought out you and you alone! A friendly website this may be. A friendly webmaster I am not! Surprised you, I have! When the bug libraries are consumed by termites there will be no bug data left so our recommendation is to bug out over bug books faster than a fly!

      • Matt says:

        Know ye the ways of the bugs of olde. Lest the parents of our children be shamed by generations of online critique and the doo-doo of a million aphids.

  20. Bob says:

    I’d much rather bugman spend his time identifying bugs for people instead of engaging in any of this.

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