Insect Year in Review 2021

Observing the diversity of life that coexists in one place is one of the rewards of visiting the same natural area over a long period of time. My garden not only offers myself and passersby such an observatory. It’s also a laboratory in which I can research how insects engage with their environment – both biotic and abiotic – and imagine, design, and create habitat to better provide for their needs.

The Front Garden, November 2021

I use iNaturalist to document the diversity of life in my garden. Although I only posted my first iNaturalist Observation in 2017, my garden Observations now span more than a decade. As of this year, I’ve documented over 400 insect species making use of my garden.

iNaturalist Observations · Flatbush Gardener - Top 25 Species - 2021-12-31

This biodiversity, and my documentation of it, is intentional. And although all of this is by design, all I can do is uncover the latent urban biodiversity in and around my garden. Each new species I find is a surprise to me.

Native Plants

As I explained in last year’s Home of the Wild, native plants have been a significant focus of my gardening since we bought our home and I started the current garden in 2005. I’m always researching and experimenting with new species. And, like any avid gardener, I’m always killing things off, too.

I do my best to track my acquisitions, and failed plantings, in a spreadsheet. I categorize the species by whether they are native to the five counties of New York City, native to the NYC region – e.g.: within two counties – or are some other species native to eastern North America.

This chart summarizes the increase in native plant diversity in my garden over the years. Stacked columns, plotted against the left axis, show the number of species I acquired each year: blue for NYC-native, red for NYC-regional, and green for eastern U.S. native plant species. The large undated bar on the left represents plants I brought with me from prior gardens, or for which I’ve lost track of when or how I got them. The lines, ploted against the right axis, show the total number of species: blue for NYC-native plant species, and green for everything else.

Native Plants in my Garden by Year - 2021-12-31

2014 stands out as an exceptional year for plant acquisitions. That was my first year visiting the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference in Millserville, Pennsylvania. It has an enormous accompanying native plant sale with vendors from all over the mid-Atlantic, of which I took full advantage.

I maintain a Wish List of plants I want to try to grow in my garden. (Anyone know of a NYC-regional source for dwarf prairie willow, Salix occidentalis?!) The past few years I have targeted species for their ecological value in my garden:

  • Fill in plant families that are missing, or under-represented, in my garden, such as Apiaceae, e.g.: Zizia aurea.
  • Extend the flowering season, especially early in the year when native plant blooms are scarce. For example: Packera is the earliest-blooming Asteraceae I’ve found, so I’m trying to establish that in my garden.
  • Grow more plants to support specialist flower visitors, such as bees.

As of this year, I’m growing nearly 300 species of native plants, over 200 of which are native to New York City. With that increase in plant diversity, there’s been an increase in insect diversity (though habitat needs more than having the right plants).

Insect Species

Most of the insects that have visited my garden over the past decade fall into one of six groups:

  1. Diptera, flies: 103 species
  2. Wasps. i.e.: other Hymenoptera, excluding bees and ants: 70 species
  3. Coleoptera, beetles: 57 species
  4. Epifamily Anthophila, bees: 55 species
  5. Lepidoptera, butterflies, moths, and skippers: 55 species
  6. Hemiptera, bugs: 43 species

That’s where things stand today. But this didn’t happen all at once. This chart shows how I’ve accumulated species records in my garden for each of these groups over time. We can see that the slope of the lines increased sharply over the past three years, from 2019 through 2021.

Insects in my Garden - Cumulative Species at the end of each Year by Taxonomic Group - 2021-12-31

It’s a little easier to see which taxa contributed most to the increases if we look instead at just the new species, instead of the total number of species. This stacked column chart shows the number of new species I’ve found each year in my garden, for each of my six focus taxa. Again, the last three years stand out as being responsible for most of the increase.

Insects in my Garden - New Species each Year by Taxonomic Group - 2021-12-31

The color codes of the stacked column segments are the same as the lines in the previous chart to make it easier to draw comparisons between the two:

  1. I’ve seen most of the fly species in just the past two years.
  2. It’s the same for the wasp species.
  3. Beetles saw a spike in new species observed in 2017 and again in 2020. Otherwise, a fairly steady uncovering of new species each year.
  4. Bees have seen a remarkably steady discovery of new species over the years. The first few years found lots of new species. More recent years not so much. 
  5. Butterflies, moths, and skippers have also shown up mostly over the past three years.
  6. Most of the bug species were found during the three year span from 2018-2020. Not so much this past year.

I believe that at least some of these increases reflect success in creating habitat for diverse insect species. But my observing behaviors have not been consistent over the years. Am I seeing more species just because I’m spending more time looking for them? And — if so — how much observation do I need to do to be confident I’m adequately sampling my garden?

Insect Observations

I ramped up my Observations the past two years – 2020 & 2021 – to increase my contributions to two iNaturalist Projects:

As mentioned above, I wrote about the first Project, and the history of my garden as insect habitat on my blog last year. ESNPS was originally scheduled to run only three years, from 2018 through 2020. Of course, the pandemic changed those plans; they decided to extend the iNaturalist portion another year, into 2021.

By concentrating on these two efforts, I increased my Observations in my own garden by a factor of 8. This year, I also invested in better macro equipment. So I was spending a lot more time in my garden, and was able to capture many more individuals with photographs good enough for identification.

Insects in my Garden - Observations per Year by Taxonomic Group - Chart

The Empire State Native Pollinator Survey includes bees and Syrphidae, flower and hover flies, among its focal taxa. Although my increased observation found more of everything, bees and flies took up a greater proportion of the total observations.

How many observations do I need to make to have high confidence I have found most of the species present in my garden? This chart compares the number of species observed against the number of observations for the four most diverse taxa: flies, wasps, bees, and beetles. I’ve added labels for the two most recent years, to highlight that not only did they have the most observations, they are also the years I found the most species.

Insects in my Garden - Number of Species by Number of Observations - Chart

Last year was not a pace of observation I can sustain indefinitely. There’s a lot of effort in taking high-quality, identifiable macro photographs of insects in the garden to uploading them as verifiable observatinos in iNaturalist. Some days it took most of my waking hours, spread over multiple days, just to process all the photographs from a single day of observation.

My iNaturalist activity the past year was artificial, driven by the gamification offered by the two Projects in which I was actively “competing”. But this past year gave me a strong foundation for continuing to make effective observations. I look forward to being surprised by future discoveries in my garden.

Related Content

Hot Sheets Habitat, 2021-11-19
Documenting Insect-Plant Interactions, 2021-10-29
Home of the Wild, 2020-05-13


Standing Still 2021: Demeter Waiting

Today is the December solstice: the winter solstice in my hometown Northern hemisphere, summer in the Southern.

Persephone and her Pomegranate

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 'Proserpine', 1874

The millenia-old story of Persephone and her pomegranate, in all their incarnations, strikes me as a deeper analogy this Winter. Persephone was abducted, held hostage in hell, and starved. Only under this extreme duress did she eat anything she was offered: a few seeds of the pomegranate to stave her hunger.

I can relate to “being held hostage in hell”. I feel as though I’ve endured six years of it. I know others do, as well.

While our personal histories may provide us with tools and resources to endure, so much of our resiliency is shaped by systemic forces. Conservative forces of this country have worked for decades, all my adult life, to destroy all social supports – health care, housing, education, food, transportation – that should be our common responsibility, “privatizing” them into for-profit enterprises available only to those who can afford it, and parasitizing what should have been our collective wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer.

The past six years has broken people.

Endurance trauma takes unique forms in all of us. We can become numb. We can become paralyzed by fear. We might take risks we would not have accepted before. We may lash out, seeking targets for our rage. It can lead us to embrace the dark places. I have lost friends and colleagues to those places throughout all this, especially over the past year.

Maybe I am more like Demeter, weeping for the hold darkness has over others, while reaching and hoping for a time when we can bring everyone back into the light.

A Single Candle

Related Content

All my past Winter Solstice posts: 

  • 2018: Standing Still in 2018
  • 2016: Standing Still 2016
  • 2015: Standing Still
  • 2014: The Sun stands still
  • 2010: From Dark to Dark: Eclipse-Solstice Astro Combo
  • 2009: Standing Still, Looking Ahead
  • 2008: Stand Still / Dona Nobis Pacem
  • 2007: Solstice (the sun stands still)



Garden Design Pattern Languages

Adapted from a tweet thread.

In a guest post on the ASLA’s “Dirt” column, Alden E. Stone, CEO of Nature Sacred, writes:

[Our new report] is part research and part practical guide, and shares key insights gained through having co-created more than 100 Sacred Places across the country in communities, many under-resourced; in prisons, at universities, and in hospitals. A handful of these sites were also implemented as part of an expansive, decade-long design, build, and research project. …

For the research portion of this paper, we focused our attention on four domains: nature’s impact on individual, community, economic and ecological health. …

for many of the individual and community health benefits to kick in, people must engage with nature. Spend time in the green space. And this is where Nature Sacred has spent a lot of energy over the past two decades — looking at how to best engage the community and how to best design so that the community embraces, and spends time in, their green space.

She describes four “design elements”:

  • Portal
  • Path
  • Destination
  • Surround

These design patterns recur in many different types of gardens, whether intentionally healing/sacred or not.

My backyard embodies all four elements. What follows is an exploration of the history of my backyard, from inception to its current state, viewed through the frame of those four design elements.

The Backyard, House Opening Party, October 2005 The Backyard, ready for visitors, June 2021


My first sketch of the backyard, just after we bought our house. You can see portals/transitions, paths, seating as destinations, and the surround of enveloping plants. (Even though we had just moved in, I was also fantasizing about changing out the whole back of the house and adding a rear porch to better connect it with the backyard. That never happened.)

Backyard Garden Design Sketch, 2005-06-22


By our second Spring, I better understood how light and shade shifts over the garden throughout the year. The plan is refined and made more specific, less conceptual. The Gardener’s Nook is now defined. The driveway-backyard portal shows up: the garage and house both connected and separated by a fence and trellis through which one would pass to enter the backyard from the driveway.

Backyard Garden Design Sketch, 2006-04-30

Using the sketch as a guide, the loose circle shown in the opening photo gets tightened up, better defined. Bringing the sketch to life, the desination Gardener’s Nook – the upper left of the sketch directly above – makes it first appearance with a pair of Adirondack chairs and some decor. Plants in containers begin to define the surround. An umbrella substitutes for the missing tree canopy.

The Backyard, May 2006


A year after that, things are really coming together. A trellis establishes the portal entrance from the driveway into the backyard. This filters the line of sight into the backyard, which beckons one to venture through, and past.

Filtered View into the Backyard from the Driveway, July 2007

The center of the circle gets filled in. A table both provides central desination, and defines a circular path around itself, echoing the initial concept sketch. Logs double as seating and a layer of surround. The plants are now getting large enough to provide a second layer. My rear neighbor thankfully provided a fence, closing off the backyard and completing the surround.

The Backyard, July 2007


Winter 2009: My Garden Design class final project is my backyard, striking a balance to maximize planting area – a deep surround – while retaining space for people. Curved borders echo the original spiral.

Final rendering, backyard garden design

Although the built environment of that design is never realized, the plan and its rough dimensions inform all later changes. Later that year, I transplant a large shrub. This gives the backyard a sense of enclosure, the “surround”.

After transplant


I plant an “understory” tree which will provide overhead enclosure, a vertical surround. As I had specified in my garden design, I selected an Amelanchier, which goes by many wonderful phenologically evocative common names. It serves as a replacement for the old apple tree my north-side neighbors had in their backyard, adjacent to our shared fence. Eventually, it brings back the cedar waxwings I enjoyed seeing amongst its flowers.

The new serviceberry, planted and mulched, May 2010


The portal/entrance to the backyard gets a major makeover. I register with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat. My garden itself becomes a destination, and welcomes its first public visitors.

Arbor entrance
Certified Wildlife Habitat sign


The garden hosts a wedding, its first use as an intentionally sacred space.

Ancestor's Altar, Jay & Syd's Big Fat Queer Wedding, October 2014


Five years later, the shrubs and other plantings have matured, and the surround of enveloping greenery and flowers has been realized. The Gardener’s Nook is now a fully-sheltered spot, a desination tucked into the larger embrace of the garden.

Morning Glory: My urban backyard native plant garden & wildlife habitat


This garden continues to be a sacred/healing space for many over the years. It was sanctuary for our dear friend David. After he entered home hospice, he would call a car service to deliver him to the garden. Here he is in the Gardener’s Nook two weeks before he died.

David Charles Ashley, in my backyard, July 2018, 2 weeks before he died


Today, 16 years after that first sketch, the backyard has realized its final form. Visitors say they feel like they’ve walked into the woods, the highest praise.

Portal, path, destination, surround – all embodied, and felt, in the garden.

Entrance through the arbor to the backyard, June 2021

Related Content

Hot Sheets Habitat, 2021-11-19
Home of the Wild, 2020-05-14


Alden E. Stone, New Research and Roadmap for Creating Healing Green Spaces, ASLA Dirt Guest Column, 2021-12-14

Nature Sacred


2022-12-01 (World AIDS Day): Added more Related Content links.

2022-09-20: Where available, added locations of panels in the AIDS Quilt.

Book Cover, "The AIDS Epidemic," 1983, anthology of a NYC symposium

These are some of the people, all men, I have lost over the years, nearly all to AIDS. With the exceptions of those additions noted, I stopped actively maintaining this list in 1994. In alphabetical order.

  • William “Wolf” Agress, a lover, died in 1990
  • Andre, a bartender at the Tunnel Bar in the East Village, now defunct
  • Vincent Barnes
  • Jerry Bihm
  • Bobby
  • Colin Curran
  • Erez Dror, co-owner and -founder of the Black Hound Bakery in the East Village, New York City, now defunct (AIDS Quilt Block )
  • Jeffrey “Jeff” Glidden, 1958-1987, a lover (AIDS Quilt Blocks and )
  • Paul “Griff” Griffin
  • Martin Noel Jorda
  • David Kirschenbaum, 1962-1993, community organizer with the New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project
  • Art “Artie” Kohn, 1947-1991, founder of the BackRoom BBS in New York City, now defunct (AIDS Quilt Block )
  • John Larsen, a lover, died 2007 (Added 2021-12-01)
  • Jim Lewis
  • Luis
  • John Mangano, 1955-1991 (AIDS Quilt Block )
  • Jeffrey Martin
  • Morris Matthews
  • David Mayer (Added 2021-12-01)
  • Karl Michalak, 1958-1997
  • Mark Melvin, 1962-08-27 – 1992-06-03 (AIDS Quilt Block )
  • Norm
  • Tony Panico, my first lover in New York City, and the first person close to me to die from AIDS. His name appears twice on the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the first on Panel 05A when it was displayed in 1988. (AIDS Quilt Blocks and )
  • Charles Pope, barfly extraordinaire
  • Gordon Provencher, 1955-1992 (AIDS Quilt Block )
  • Tom Raleigh
  • Craig Rodwell, 1940-1993, founder of the Oscar Wilde Bookstore in Greenwich Village, NYC
  • Tony Rostron
  • Jurgen Schmitt
  • Giulio Sorrentino
  • Buddy Volani
  • Jeremy Wells
  • David Joseph Wilcox, 1957-1996

Tony's Quilt

Most of these men – including three of my ex-lovers – died before I was 35 years old. (A fourth died in 2007.) There are countless scores, hundreds, more whose names I did not know, whose fates I never learned, or who died since I stopped maintaining this list in 1994.

Related Content

Grief and Gardening: Ashes (Remembrance Day for Lost Species), 2019-12-02 One Score Years Ago, 2016-01-21
An earlier edition of this list: Names, World AIDS Day, 2009-12-01
David Joseph Wilcox, 1957-1996, 2008-01-22
In the Shadow (How shall my heart be reconciled to its feast of losses?), 2007-08-28
Back in the Day, about the Backroom BBS, my first online community, in the 1980s.
Grief & Gardening #1: 1, 5 and 25, 2006-09-04


NY Times Obituary for David Kirschenbaum (PAYWALLED)
Wikipedia: Craig Rodwell
Reagan’s AIDS Legacy / Silence equals death, Allen White, SFGate, 2004-06-08, following Ronald Reagan’s death

World AIDS Day

Grief and Gardening: Extinct Plants of northern North America 2021

A Single Candle

As in past years, I’m limiting this list to northern North America for two reasons:

  1. Restricting this list geographically is in keeping with my specialization in plants native to northeastern North America.
  2. There are many more tropical plants, and plant extinctions, than I can manage.

Last year, this paper:

Vascular plant extinction in the continental United States and Canada

caused me to expand my list from 6 to 59 species, including 7 extinct in the wild. The summary is terse, and grim:

Given the paucity of plant surveys in many areas, particularly prior to European settlement, the actual extinction rate of vascular plants is undoubtedly much higher than indicated here.

Note that they only examined vascular plants. So their list excludes Neomacounia nitida, Macoun’s shining moss. It remains on my full list, below.
I’ve highlighted those which appeared prior to 2020 with an asterisk *. Everything else was added in 2020. If you have additions or corrections to this list, please let me know, and provide a link which I can research.


Extinct in the wild (IUCN Red List code EW)

  • Arctostaphylos franciscana, Central Coast, San Francisco County, California. Last observed in the wild 2009
  • Crataegus delawarensis, Delaware, 1903
  • Crataegus fecunda, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, 1930s
  • Crataegus lanuginosa, Webb City, Jasper County, Missouri, 1957
  • Euonymous atropurpurea var. cheatumii, Dallas County, Texas, 1944
  • Franklinia alatamaha, Franklin Tree
  • Prunus maritima var. gravesii, beach plum, groton, New London County, Connecticut, 2000

Related Content


Vascular plant extinction in the continental United States and Canada, 2020-08-20, Authors: Wesley M. Knapp, Anne Frances, Reed Noss, Robert F. C. Naczi, Alan Weakley, George D. Gann, Bruce G. Baldwin, James Miller, Patrick McIntyre, Brent D. Mishler, Gerry Moore, Richard G. Olmstead, Anna Strong, Kathryn Kennedy, Bonnie Heidel, Daniel Gluesenkamp

Hot Sheets Habitat

A mating pair of NOID Dolichopodidae, long-legged flies, in my backyard, September 2018

My garden is registered as both a National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat and Xerces Society Pollinator Habitat. The insects have certainly gotten the message. During 2021, I’ve been able to document 14 different species of insects mating in my garden.
  1. Acanthoscelidius acephalus, minute seed weevil
  2. Epitrix fuscula
  3. Harmonia axyridis, multi-colored lady beetle (introduced)
  4. Eumerus
  5. Orthonevra nitida, wavy mucksucker
  6. Syritta pipiens, compost fly (introduced)
  7. Toxomerus geminatus, Eastern calligrapher fly
  8. Toxomerus marginatus, margined calligrapher fly
  9. Xenox tigrinus, tiger bee fly
  10. Jalysus, stilt bug
  11. Lygaeus kalmii ssp. angustomarginatus, Eastern small milkweed bug
  12. Hylaeus modestus, modest masked bee
  13. Xylocopa virginica, large Eastern carpenter bee
  14. Danaus plexxipus, monarch butterfly

Coleoptera, beetles

Acanthoscelidius acephalus, minute seed weevil

Mating pair of *Acanthoscelidius acephala* in *Oenothera biennis* in my front yard, July 2021

Epitrix fuscula

Mating pair of leaf beetle on Solanum along my driveway, August 2021

Harmonia axyridis, multi-colored lady beetle

Mating pair of *Harmonia axyridis*, multi-colored lady beetle, on *Asclepias syriaca* in my garden, June 2021

Diptera, flies


Mating pair of *Eumerus*, hoverflies, in my front yard, October 2021

Orthonevra nitida, wavy mucksucker

Mating pair of *Orthonvera nitida*, wavy mudsucker syrphid flies, on *Ageratina altissima* in my front yard, November 2021

Syritta pipiens

Mating pair of Syritta pipiens on Pycnanthemum muticum along my driveway, July 2021

Toxomerus geminatus, Eastern calligrapher fly

Mating pair of *Toxomerus geminatus*, Eastern calligrapher syrphid fly, in my front yard, October 2021

Toxomerus marginatus, margined calligrapher fly

Mating pair of Toxomerus marginatus on Erigeron annuus in my front yard, July 2021

Xenox tigrinus, tiger bee fly

Mating pair of *Xenox tigrinus*, tiger bee fly, outside my porch screen, August 2021

Hemiptera, bugs

Jaylsus, stilt bug

Mating pair of Jalysus on Solanum along my driveway, August 2021

Lygaeus kalmii ssp. angustomarginatus, Eastern small milkweed bug

Mating pair of *Lygaeus kalmii* ssp. *angustomarginatus*, Eastern small milkweed bug, on *Ascelpias syriaca* in my garden, June 2021

Hymenoptera, Epifamily Anthophila, bees

Hylaeus modestus, modest masked bee

Mating pair of *Hylaeus modestus* on *Boltonia asteroides* in my front yard, August 2021

Xylocopa virginica, large Eastern carpenter bee

Mating pair of *Xylocopa vorginica* on *Clethra alnifolia* in my backyard, August 2021

Lepidoptera, butterflies

Danaus plexippus, monarch butterfly

My garden is also registered as a butterfly and monarch habitat, and monarch waystation. It proved its worth this year. I observed multiple couplings, in addition to the usual egg-laying. Pair of monarchs mating in my garden, August 2021

Related Content

Flickr photo album

iNaturalist: Insects mating in my garden during 2021


Annie, 2009-2021

Annie on Daddy's chair

Our dear cat Annie passed away less than an hour ago.

We adopted her from Sean Casey Animal Rescue at the age of 5 or 6 months in September 2009. We brought her into our home to be a companion for our elder rescuer cat Ripley. She was a good little sister to him for several years before he died in 2015.

She had a recent health scare last month for which we took her to veterinary emergency care. She was there for a few days and was stable before we brought her home.

She started having the same symptoms earlier today, but she deterioriated quickly today. John and I discussed it and decided that, if it was her time, she would be better off with us than putting her through that stress again.

It was the right decision.At least one of us was with her all evening so she would not be alone. When she died, both John and I were by her side. She took her last breath while I was petting her.


This morning I brought her body to the vet for pet cremation. She was always so skinny. But today she was heavy.

She liked to get in bed with me when I went to bed, yelling at me if I stayed up too late. I missed her the past two nights.

Annie under the covers

These nights are the hardest. It’s when I feel her absence the most. She’s not coming to me to tell me to go to bed. She won’t stalk me until I get under the covers, then join me, laying her body against mine, finding her niche beween me and the pillows.

Annie laying on my arm in bed, June 2021

Related Content

All my photos of Annie (Flickr photo album)

Blessing of the Animals, Chelsea Community Church (Annie’s “Coming Out” party after we adopted her), 2009-10-11

Meet Mr. Ripley, 2008-04-14
Ripley, 2000-2015, 2015-05-21


Sean Casey Animal Rescue

Documenting Insect-Plant Interactions

2021-10-29: Transcribed and updated my October 20th tweet thread on this topic. 

I’m an active contributor to iNaturalist. While I’m not a “super-observer”, I expect to surpass 11,000 Observations by Halloween, two days away.

Insect-Plant interactions are the majority of my iNaturalist Observations. I use the Observation Field: Interaction->Visited Flower Of to record which flowers insects are visiting, or lurking upon. Roughly 1/3 of my Observations use that field.

Partial Screenshot of my most recent Observations with the Visited Flower Of Field - 2021-10-29

Both the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and Global Biotic Interactions database (GloBI) automatically import iNaturalist Research Grade observations with an appropriate Creative Commons license. I’ll use one of my iNaturalist Observations as an example to show how it all works together.

In August I photographed an Eastern bumble bee, Bombus impatiens, on New York ironweed, Vernonia noveboracensis growing in my garden in front of my garage. Check out those bustling pink corbicula (pollen baskets)!

*Bombus impatiens* on *Vernonia noveboracensis* in front of my garage, August 2021

I uploaded that to iNaturalist as an Observation, and added the Observation Field “Interaction->Visited flower of: Vernonia noveboracensis New York Ironweed”.

Partial Screenshot of my an Observation of Bombus Impatiens on NY ironweed

To make my Observations accessible for import into scientific databases, I assign the Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) to my iNaturalist Observations. Since enough time has passed since it reached iNaturalist Resarch Grade status, the Observation has since been imported into both GBIF and GloBI.

Partial Screenshot of Data Quality Assessment section of an iNaturalist Observation showing exports to GBIF and GloBI

The iNaturalist Observation becomes a GBIF Occurrence. All fields are transcribed from iNat to corresponding GBIF fields, with some values interpreted, e.g.: GPS coordinates are rounded, GBIF Occurrence Status = “PRESENT”.

To also make it into GloBI, the iNaturalist Observation also has to have one or more Observation Fields that GloBI recognizes. Per GloBI’s “Contribute” page, their GitHub repo maps iNaturalist Observation Fields to GloBi’s “Interaction Type”. Any of the listed iNat Fields show up in GloBi with the corresponding “Interaction Type”. There are already >170!

Partial Screenshot of GloBI GitHub Repo iNaturalist mapping CSV file - 2021-10-29

For example, Row 45 of that table shows that the iNaturalist Observation Field “Interaction: Visited flower of” corresponds to the GlobalBiotic Interaction Type “visits flowers of”.

The GloBI link on my original iNaturalist Observation lists all iNat obs showing that:

  • Bombus impatiens
  • visits flowers of
  • Vernonia noveboracensis

I seem to be the only person to have documented this interaction on iNat!

Related Content


Data Sources

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
Global Biotic Interactions (GloBI)

Collections Management

Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio)
Symbiota Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN): provides a web-based collections database system for those that want to curate their data directly in SCAN and serve data to GBIF.

Data Standards

Biodiversity Information Standards (formerly known as the Taxonomic Databases Working Group, TDWG):

  • develops, ratifies and promotes standards and guidelines for the recording and exchange of data about organisms
  • and acts as a forum for discussing all aspects of biodiversity information management through meetings, online discussions, and publications.

TDWG Biological Interaction Data Interest Group, GitHub Repo:
Darwin Core (DWC): Maintained by TDWG, a standard glossary of terms intended to facilitate the sharing of information about biological diversity by providing identifiers, labels, and definitions. Darwin Core is primarily based on taxa, their occurrence in nature as documented by observations, specimens, samples, and related information.
The Relations Ontology (RO) captures many species interaction terms (e.g.,

Darwin Core Resource Relationship Extension

iNaturalist Workshops, The High Line, Saturday September 25

Updated 2021-09-25: Added Links and QR Codes to “Getting Started with iNaturalist”.

I’m pleased to announce that Saturday, September 25th, I will be leading two iNaturalist Workshops “in the field” at The High Line. This is one of several workshops, and many other events, they have scheduled for Insectageddon, which runs from 3-6pm that Saturday afternoon.

Self-Portrait of an iNaturalist as an old man

I’ll be doing two walks:

  • 3:15-4:15 pm
  • 4:45-5:45 pm

When not out on one of the walks, I’ll have a table in The High Line’s Chelsea Market Passage, between 15th and 16th Streets. Please sign up there for one of the two workshops, as space will be limited. Each walk will start out from that location.

iNaturalist Workshop
Hosted by Chris Kreussling, aka “Flatbush Gardener”
Join Chris Kreussling for a walk on the High Line to explore plant and insect interactions and learn about the citizen scientist observation gathering tool iNaturalist. Tours begin at 3:30 and 4:45; please sign up upon arrival at Chris’s table in Chelsea Market Passage. Chris is a Brooklyn naturalist and gardener specializing in gardening with native plants to create habitat for pollinators and other invertebrates.

Visiting the High Line

Note that there are weekend restrictions in place for visitors to The High Line. You must register for timed entry; pre-registration is highly recommended. The only weekend entrances open are at Gansevoort Street, 23rd Street, and 30th Street. 

Please give yourself plenty of time to get to my table in Chelse Market Passage for the start of the walk. The 14th Street entrance is exit-only on weekends. The closest weekend entrance is Gansevoort Street, at the corner of Washington Street, the southern end of The High Line. This entrance is just three blocks south of 14th Street.

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Getting Started

Grief & Gardening: 20 Years

Written spontaneously as a Twitter thread, and transcribed to this blog post.

Anti-war graffiti on base of statue, Union Square Park, September 24, 2001 

I’m avoiding the news today. As well as the retraumatizing snuff porn documentaries. I’ve written about all of it before. I don’t feel the need to day to write any more. I wrote this 15 years ago about Anniversaries, my first “Grief & Gardening” post:

The ways we observe anniversaries is arbitrary. For example, I was shocked to tears for weeks by the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004, which killed 100 times more people than Katrina [1st Anniversary]. The earthquake which precipitated it left the entire planet ringing like a bell. The observation of “25 Years of AIDS” at this year’s World AIDS Congress is pinned only to the first official report of a cluster of unusual deaths by the Centers for Disease Control in June of 1981. The timelines of epidemics don’t follow our categorizations of them.
Grief & Gardening #1: 1, 5 and 25, 2006-09-04


At the time, I didn’t have the blog yet. I wrote a lot in my journal. I transcribed some of it to back-dated blog posts. This was the first:

Like an earthquake, the initial shocks have affected each of us differently, and to different degrees. The aftershocks will continue for months. The effects will ripple out for decades. If I believed there was anyone to listen, let alone, answer, I would pray that each of us gets whatever we need to come through healthy and whole. I would pray that, individually and collectively, we respond to this violence with compassion, wisdom, courage and strength.
This Week in History, 2001-09-14

Roadside Sentiment, Hudson, New York, September 16, 2001 

The second back-dated blog post transcribes a letter I wrote to Rev. Joanna Tipple, then pastor of the Copake, NY church, which had been my husband’s church when he was growing up:

Again, and still, horrors are committed in the name of God. A month ago, more than five thousand people lost their lives in a smoking crater, killed in the name of God. It makes no difference to me whether the banner reads “Holy War” or “God Bless America.” This crisis has brought out both the best and worst in people. Like any tool, the idea of God is used for evil as well as good. Then what good is God?
Without God

Grieving Angel I worked in downtown Manhattan for 35 years before retiring two months ago. As the 5th Anniversary approached, Ground Zero was still just that, a wound. Everywhere were commemorative signs and symbols. You could feel it just walking around.

I have been feeling this one, the 5th anniversary of 9/11. The city is feeling it, too. Peoples’ grief is closer to the surface, more accessible. Mine certainly is. I’ve also been remembering a lot of what it was like in the city right after. There are reminders of it everywhere, on the news, in the papers, special exhibits and events, and especially, at Ground Zero.
Grief & Gardening #2: Five Years After, “Ths Transetorey Life”, 2006-09-09

I moved to NYC, to the East Village, in 1979. Though I survived, many did not. It’s why grief and loss pervade my writing, including my blog. I wrote this in 2007, after learning of the death, from AIDS, of yet another of my last lovers.

Reminders of the upcoming 6th Anniversary of 9/11 are piling up. My first day back at work from my [recent] trip, I walked by the Deutsche Bank building – ruined in the attacks, condemned, and only now being dismantled – where two firefighters had lost their lives the day before. I could see the blackened scaffolding and walls of the building. I smelled the smoke, startled for a few minutes, taken back to the months after the attacks, when the fires burned for months, when we walked every day through the crematory of downtown Manhattan.
In the Shadow (How shall my heart be reconciled to its feast of losses?), 2007-08-08

Bulldog 6
On the 7th Anniversary, I wrote my name on a beam that was intended to become part of the Memorial at Ground Zero. I was briefly interviewed by a local radio reporter from 1010WINS. I met a good dog.

Flags, flags, flags … flags waving everywhere. I understand the impulse, yet I don’t feel it as a defiant gesture. It feels like a concession to me. That we have no greater symbol than our nation’s flag makes me sad. What evil has been committed in the name of that flag?
Seven years, 2008-09-10

Skytop and tower, Mohonk, New York, September 10, 2001
On the 9th Anniversary, with some perspective of years, I was able to write coherently about what our experience had been that day, that week. I worked downtown, through the months of smoke and ash that followed. And year after year in NYC.

We decided to hold to our vacation plans for the week, somber though it was. There was nothing we could do back home. My workplace downtown, blocks from Ground Zero, would not reopen for two weeks. Reminders met us everywhere we went. And everywhere we went, we were ambassadors for New York City. When we told people where we were from, as often as not, they broke down crying. We were their reminders.
Grief & Gardening: Nine Years, 2010-09-11

St. Paul's Enshrouded
I avoid “ticker tape” parades.

The gutters were thick with shreds of paper, and ash, for weeks and months after 9/11. The gray ash was the last to go. Living and working in downtown after 9/11 was being in a crematorium.
Grief and Gardening: Remains of the Day, 2019-07-11

So, I don’t feel a need to write anything new today. I’m going to spend the day away from television, and news, and commemorations. I will instead hug my husband, squish our cats, and spend time in the garden photographing bugs, observing and celebrating the diversity of life. *Agapostemon* on *Pycnanthemum muticum* in front of my garage, August 2021

Related Content

In chronological order. 2001-09-14: This Week in History
2001-10-15: Without God
2006-09-04: Grief & Gardening #1: 1, 5 and 25
2006-09-09: Grief & Gardening #2: Five Years After, “Ths Transetorey Life”
2007-08-08: In the Shadow (How shall my heart be reconciled to its feast of losses?)
2008-09-10: Seven years
2010-09-11: Grief & Gardening: Nine Years
2019-07-11: Grief and Gardening: Remains of the Day

2021-09-11: Twitter thread