Mystery #1

I admit, I like to pick on iStockphoto, the pioneering company behind the high volume/low cost microstock model of media licensing.

There’s nothing wrong with microstock. After all, the thriving web-based market for cheap images is a ripe opportunity. But buyers get what they pay for, and they should be aware that a photographer who nets forty cents an image is unlikely to fact-check with the same level of rigor as one paid $400 an image. So the microstocks are entertainingly peppered with error.

Tonight’s challenge: put a name on each of these ten taxonomic disasters from the iStockphoto galleries. One point for each image will awarded to the first person who correctly identifies the creature to the equivalent level (e.g., if the misID is at the family level, then answer with the correct family).

The cumulative points winner for the Monday Mysteries for the month of May will get their choice of 1) any 8×10 print from my photo galleries; or 2) a guest post on the safe-for-work topic of their choice.

The remaining nine images are below the fold.


Mystery #2


Mystery #3


Mystery #4


Mystery #5


Mystery #6


Mystery #7


Mystery #8


Mystery #9


Mystery #10


  1. #1 JasonC.
    May 31, 2010

    1. Red Admiral butterfly
    2. Small robber fly
    3. Hemiptera (milkweed bug)
    4. Crand fly (tipulid)
    5. Katydid (tettigoniid)
    6. Cuckoo Wasp
    7. Hornet (Vespa)
    8. Hoverfly (Syrphid)
    9. Carpenter ants (Camponotus)
    10. Male ant

  2. #2 JasonC.
    May 31, 2010

    To clarify:
    1. Vanessa atalanta
    2. asilid
    6. chrysidid
    7. vespid

  3. #3 Ted C. MacRae
    May 31, 2010

    Late to the party again. However, I’ll go with Therevidae (Stiletto Fly) for #2.

  4. #4 Ben
    May 31, 2010

    Also late, but I think 10 is a Driver ant male (Dorylus?).

  5. #5 Rob M.
    May 31, 2010

    For mystery 8, “honey bee” is at least a genus-level ? I’m going to guess Eristalis tenax.

  6. #6 Gunnar
    June 1, 2010

    Monarch – Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)
    Cicada – Brachycera of some sort, Tabanidae?
    Cockroach – Hemiptera
    Mosquito – Long-palped crane fly (Tipulidae, probably Tipula)
    Green aphid – an Ensiferan of some sort
    Metal luster bee – ?
    Bee – A vespid wasp rather than a bumble bee
    Honeybee – A syrphid fly, possibly an Eristalis
    I don’t know about the ants

  7. #7 MarekB
    June 1, 2010

    #1 Vanessa atalanta
    #2 Asilid fly
    #3 Heteroptera, a true bug nymph
    #4 Tipulidae, crane fly
    #5 Tettigoniidae, not Hemiptera but Orthoptera
    #6 Chrysididae, not a bee
    #7 Vespa crabro, a wasp
    #8 Syrphid fly, not a bee, genus Eristalis?
    #9 Camponotus nigriceps-group, maybe nigriceps itself, not fire ant
    #10 male Solenopsis, maybe fire ant S. invicta?

  8. #8 katie
    June 1, 2010

    #1. Admiral butterfly
    #2. Tabanid horsefly (Hybomitra/Tabanus?)
    #3. Stinkbug?
    #4. Crane fly?
    #5. Orthoptera
    #6. Not sure…
    #7. Syrphid
    #8. Another syrphid?
    #9. Ants…blarg!

  9. #9 Jack Jumper
    June 1, 2010


    #9 It said fire ants near Sydney Aus. I did not know fire ants are far down ????

  10. #10 James C. Trager
    June 1, 2010

    Can’t add much by now, but yes…
    10. Solenopsis invicta male

    Can’t say why, but the katydid “aphid” is my favorite!

  11. #11 Morgan Jackson
    June 1, 2010

    Wow, that’s all I can say! It’s a pretty good contest for biggest fail, but I have to give it to the “cicada”! It amazes me how far off some people are, especially on relatively easy to recognize species (i.e. Monarch Butterfly, the most identifiable butterfly in North America)!

  12. #12 Tim Eisele
    June 1, 2010

    On that first picture, I kind of have to wonder: if they can mistake a very common and quite distinctive butterfly for what is quite possibly the Most Well-Known and Easily Identified Butterfly in the World, just how confident can we be that they correctly identified the flower it is on when they claimed it was a Bradford Pear?

  13. #13 James C. Trager
    June 1, 2010

    This is fun! I do think they got the Bradford pear right, or at least it’s something in the genus Pyrus.

    Next do one from the “Audubon Guide to Insects”.

  14. #14 Aariq
    June 1, 2010

    #3 a mesquite bug nymph?
    #4 cranefly
    #5 katydid

New comments have been disabled.