ITP IDtool featured in identification workshop

Two ITP cooperators conducted an insect identification workshop in Palmer, Alaska in early October for 16 regulatory and survey biologists from across the state. The workshop focused on identifying moths (Lepidoptera) and sawflies (Hymenoptera: Symphyta). Participants from Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources, University of Alaska, US Forest Service, and US Customs and Border Protection (shown above) learned about family-level characteristics, how to remove insects from traps, and dissection techniques necessary for species-level identification.

In addition, cooperators introduced ITP’s upcoming Sawfly GenUS IDtool, which provided attendees with an opportunity to use its Lucid interactive key to identify specimens to genus. Sawfly GenUS, a tool for all sawfly genera found in the United States and Canada, is intended to help recognize sawfly introductions, as well as provide general information on affected plants and the range and diversity of sawflies. Workshop participants used Sawfly GenUS’s key covering the 47 genera in North America (the tool also includes a key to Sirex species of the world), and provided valuable feedback for ITP on the tool’s beta version. All participants, especially those with limited entomological training, noted that they found it easier and faster to identify a sawfly to genus using Sawfly GenUS as compared with existing traditional literature. In particular, they pointed to the ability to skip confusing or non-visible characters and the inclusion of color images for each character as the main key capabilities that facilitated their identifications.

ITP cooperators shown with workshop participants in the photo above are Chris Looney, front row on the left, and Quin Baine, front row second from left, both from the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Sawfly GenUS will be released in late 2019 or early 2020.