Monday Night Mystery: The Legend of iStockphoto


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 8x10 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

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Ok. Now you guys have asked for it. Apparently the mysteries haven't been quite obscure enough. So here you go. A real challenge: One point for order, three points for family, three points for genus, and three for species. Points are awarded for the first correct guess in each category. The…

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

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

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

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

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

#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?

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

By Jack Jumper (not verified) on 01 Jun 2010 #permalink

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

Can't say why, but the katydid "aphid" is my favorite!

By James C. Trager (not verified) on 01 Jun 2010 #permalink

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)!

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?

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".

By James C. Trager (not verified) on 01 Jun 2010 #permalink

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