Posted By QEII National Trust | April 9, 2020

While New Zealand is in level 4 lockdown; we all must do our bit to stay home and reduce the spread of COVID-19. While this means that exploring our greater Aotearoa backyard is on hold for a little while, the team at iNaturalist – Mātaki Taiao have come up with a project to encourage people to keep exploring the natural world while staying safe – StayiNatHome.

iNaturalist is a place online where you can share what you see in nature, set up citizen science and community-based monitoring projects, meet other nature watchers, and learn about New Zealand’s amazing natural history. With the iNaturalist website or app, people can use their cameras and smartphones to focus on and capture the nature on their properties or spotted on their neighbourhood strolls. One of the best things about iNaturalist is that if you see something interesting out in nature, but you have no idea what it is, you can upload a photo and experts, and other citizen science folks can help you identify it. 

Many of our QEII team are avid users of iNaturalist, they have been exploring their backyards over the last two weeks and uploading their finds to the online database. Over in the Nelson-Tasman area, our regional rep Tom Stein has a small covenant adjacent his house. In a one-person bio blitz, Tom has been adding new records to his iNaturalist log. On a recent afternoon he was lucky enough to record rarely sighted rock bristletail (Nesomachilis species). If you’re keen to spot invertebrate life, the best time to see them is on a moonless overcast, warm and still night with an LED headtorch light to ensure you can capture a good photo.  

Our regional rep for Central Canterbury, Alice Shanks, inadvertently created a “light-trap” by leaving bathroom window open with the light on. She was rewarded She was rewarded with moths, long-horned caddisfly and common garden katydid and logged her find on iNaturalist here.  

Rock bristletail (Nesomachilis species) Photo credit: Tom Stein
Common garden katydid Photo credit: Alice Shanks

In Gisborne, regional rep Malcolm Rutherford has been taking to the backyard with his children and they’ve been spotting a lot in their own yard and his daughter, Juniper, spotted this wheat sized cocoon with no help from dad. Some of the other things that they’ve spotted includes mould on vege scraps, ants, fruit flies, caterpillars, spiders, flat worms, white fly, birds, and fungus on rotting wood 

Juniper exploring the garden. Photo credit: Malcolm Rutherford
Cocoon found by Juniper. Photo credit: Malcolm Rutherford

All the NZ observations uploaded to the iNaturalist smartphone app or the iNaturalist.NZ website over the lockdown period will automatically show up in the StayiNatHome project dashboard. If you’re on social media, you can share your new observations with the hashtags #StayiNatHome and tag @iNaturalistNZ.