Winter Bug Count

Zebra jumping spider. JOHN ACORN

The annual Winter Bug Count documents arthropods — insects, spiders, and crustaceans such as sow bugs — in Alberta and Saskatchewan through December, January, and February. Accepted species include any free-living arthropod indoors or outdoors, excluding pets, specimens, or pet food. You can contribute observations to this year’s Winter Bug Count by sharing your observations on iNaturalist. Not sure what that creepy crawly in your basement is? Experts will help identify your find! Follow these easy steps to participate:

Step 1: Install the iNaturalist app on your device or visit on your computer.

Step 2: Create an account and join the Winter Big Count Project 2023/2024.

Step 3: Head outside to explore snowbanks and sheltered areas or head down into your basement to find a creepy crawler skittling across the floor. Try moving boxes or items that have not been disturbed in a while. Some bugs will just sit there, allowing an easy photograph to be taken. Other times, you’ll have to be fast to take a picture, or catch the arthropod in a bug viewing container to get a clear photograph. 

Step 4: Tap “Observe” to take a photo of your little critter. Review your photo and hit “Next” if it looks good.

Step 5: Optional: Identify the species by clicking on “What did you see?” Options will populate based on species that look like your photo. You can select one of these or look up a species name, if you know what it is.

Step 6: Optional: You can add more photos, or a note, and review other set options.

Step 7: Hit “Share.”

Giant predaceous diving beetle. JOHN ACORN

It's that easy! Your observation will automatically be included in the Winter Bug Count results. Now search iNaturalist’s “Projects” for the Winter Bug Count to see what other small species are active in our part of the country at this time of year.

Learn more about this exciting #CitizenScience project by listening to Nature Alberta Patron John Acorn's presentation on Counting Winter Bugs with John Acorn


This article originally ran in Nature Alberta Magazine - Winter 2023.