Photos cosidered Unofficial in siting tabulation

a question abt the value of photos..
Hi bugman,
I have a question about the role of photos in "official records". I just read an article in a local (Chicago) environmental newsletter. There was a nice dragonfly photo and the gist of the accompanying story was that photos can’t be used to document sightings in the "official record". Only specimens. The photographer is opposed to "collecting" in that manner, so her sightings are not being used. Her point (and a review of your website would support her) is that citizen scientists have a valuable role in learning more abt these species and should be considered. Incidentally, the photo was of a possible black-tipped darner, which has never been recorded in IL. The author also had an (unofficial) state first in 2004 with a photo of a "russet-tipped clubtail". Unfortunately (for us) she is a professional photographer, so I doubt she’d share her photos with the rest of us. But… what IF one of your followers sent you a photo that shook the bug world? My primary passion is birding, and thankfully, photos are accepted to confirm rarities (although we have a lot of ruckus going on about the Ivory billed woodpecker right now… DID Cornell see what they say they saw? Of course, if they shot the bird, they wouldnt be getting flak over ID right now. But the collateral flak would be enough to close down the Cornell Lab of Ornithology). Is what she claims true?
Jill Anderson

Hi Jill,
Thanks for bringing up a potentially hot topic. First, we should begin by stating that we are unaware of the Official policy regarding insect sitings. There are government sites with official sitings and unconfirmed sitings indicated. In defense of the scientists, many insect identifications can only be confirmed through physical inspection of the specimen. Official is acceptable by the scientific community which demands facts. Photos, and we speak as photographers, do not tell the truth. Even if a species is identified by the photo, the location cannot be pin-pointed. The possiblitiy of a hoax always exists. Remember the Bigfoot video? Sadly, in today’s world, the only real proof is the thing itself, and often that is debateable. Remember Piltdown Man? I suppose our advice is to celebrate the unofficial sitings.

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