Identification Websites

Some of these appear more authoritative than others - but they are not always the easiest ones to use! Beware of purely photographic identification, because individual examples vary - sometimes considerably - and photographs do not always show crucial ID features. Unless you are dealing with a really authoritative site there may also be miss-identifications. Check everything via multiple sources seems to be a good rule. None of these probably substitute for knowing your way around a respected field guide in the form of a book - but how many books could you carry?

  • Amateur Entomological Society
  • Arachnological Society of the UK Photo-gallery see also:
  • Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland ("Botanical Keys")
  • British Conchological Society - for help with mollusc identification.
  • British Dragonfly Society (Dragonflies and Damselflies)
  • Butterfly Conservation has an identification section for butterflies and moths.
  • Forestry Commission "Tree Name Trail". This is a systematic method of tree identification based on leaf shapes. See also The Woodland Trust Guide to Trees for a different approach.
  • iSpot - community identification website, setup and supported by the Open University as a "Citizen Science" initiative. Post photographs and descriptions and other participants will help with ID.
  • Natural History Museum - help from the definitive experts. Submit queries and photographs to one of their forums and other members will help with identification. Eventually, if no other forum member spots the correct ID first, you will get an email from a NHM expert. Email photo to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Nature Spot contains a large number of species galleries (though the site is specifically intended for recording wildlife observations in Rutland and Leicestershire) - the site contains material that MWWG can learn from.
  • OPAL is a Citizen Science initiative supported by a consortium of UK universities (led by Imperial College). It aims to encourage ordinary people to get involve in surveys supporting the work of UK scientists. The site contains a number of basic ID guides.
  • UK Butterflies
  • UK Moths
  • seems to be a single enthusiast's lifework - but it does have a number of ways of searching for ids and may be useful in combination with other sources.
  • The Woodland Trust Guide to Trees. A pictorial guide to trees (native and non-native) that you may find growing in the British countryside. See also the Forestry Commission "Tree Name Trail" for a more systematic method of identification based on leaf shapes.

Please contribute your favourite identification websites.