Be cautious when using for identifications

And now, a public service announcement.

While I am flattered that many of you use my photo galleries to identify mystery ants, please be aware my site has limitations as a diagnostic tool. In particular, I am missing a lot of species, even some common ones, and even in North America.

Of the 33 North American species of the common genus Lasius, I have only 11:


That’s typical. Here, as an additional example, is how I am faring with Pogonomyrmex harvester ants:


Thus, when browsing my galleries looking for a match, bear in mind there’s more diversity than what I’ve posted. Often, much more. I’m just a guy with a camera, and progress happens only as time and budget permit.

If you’ve got ants needing reliable ID, you’ll do better consulting a site designed for species diagnosis like Or better yet, use the primary literature.

5 thoughts on “Be cautious when using for identifications”

  1. But they are nice pictures and properly identified. To a trained eye, sometimes a good Gestalt picture can be almost diagnostic, but one needs to have a rather refined sense of ants’ Gestalt, I guess.

    1. Thanks, James. It’s just that I’ve noticed a tendency of people to shoehorn ID’s into the species I have photographed, rather than considering all the relevant possibilities.

  2. I’d disagree that you’re “just a guy with a camera” – you’re a guy with a camera that knows what you’re talking about, and have undeniable expertise in ant identification. I’m that “just a guy with a camera”!

    Primary literature is not simple to know where to look (which of the dozens of links will lead me to the right one), or when you do find the right bit parse (wait, this is in German!). My attempts where I’ve tried haven’t really left me any more confident in my abilities – rather I have a greater appreciation for those that can make it work.

    Pictures on the other hand – “hey, this looks sort-of like Alex’s Pogomyrmex shot here!” – easy 🙂

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