Discoveries

Here are some notable observations - rare species, new arrivals, species with interesting life histories - gleaned from our iNaturalist project and other sources.

The Martha’s Vineyard Atlas of Life relies heavily on the community science platform iNaturalist to build a picture of the Vineyard’s biodiversity. Vineyard observations uploaded into iNat are automatically added to our MVAL project in iNaturalist, which can be viewed here. Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of amateur naturalists, the project sees a steady stream of new reports coming in (almost 1,700, or nearly 60 a day, during the month of June 2022!). The MVAL tries to review all of those observations, adding identifications where we can and tagging experts we know to help with species we don’t recognize.

Every one of those observations helps clarify what species occur here and how they are distributed. This section of our website selects observations that strike us as especially interesting: rare species, Vineyard specialties, species new to our iNaturalist project, known or potentially invasive species, species with unusual life histories or striking appearance. Generally we’ll include a photo or two and some brief text explaining why the observation matters. From time to time, we may include observations from other sources. Check back often to see what unusual things have been reported!

Discoveries

Great Blue Skimmer

Possibly the first fully documented record of Libellula vibrans comes from a new iNaturalist user.

Carrot Wasp

A Chilmark observation of the rarely reported wasp genus Gasteruption.

Colletes productus

Rarely observed and highly specialized, this bee was documented at a site on the Vineyard's south shore.

Pyrgota undata

Pyrgota undata: a parasitic nocturnal fly turns up at a moth sheet during our June 2022 bioblitz at Long Point Wildlife Refuge.

White Colic-root (Aletris farinosa):

Favoring sandy soils and open habitat, this member of the lily family is a characteristic plant of the Vineyard sandplain and an important plant for supporting pollinators in the late spring.

Viola pedata - Bird's foot violet

This beautiful spring wildflower is a characteristic species of the lean, droughty soils of the Vineyard sandplain.

Deer Bot Fly

A strange-looking fly with an even stranger life history.

Stiletto Flies

Perhaps because of their elongated shape, members of the fly family Therevidae have acquired the common name “stiletto flies.”

New Arrival

Deliberately or by accident, humans have transported many thousands of species from their native ranges to new regions or continents.

New Wasp Species for Vineyard Atlas of Life

An interesting species was added to the BWorks Martha’s Vineyard Atlas of Life project on iNaturalist last weekend: Vespula vidua, sometimes known as the widow yellowjacket.

"Mystery Fly" on the Vineyard's South Shore

A rarely reported, carrion-loving fly turns up on the Vineyard's southern shoreline.