When I tell people about Bugs in our Backyard, they often ask how to identify the common host plants, like the golden rain tree. Thankfully, it is not necessary to become an expert in botany or entomology to begin to recognize the plants and animals in our everyday life. Simply having names to distinguish maples from box elders, for example, makes it easier to recognize and appreciate these plants.
Thanks to the help of Trevor Fowles, from UC-Davis and soapberrybug.org, we now have an easy visual guide to the common host plants of many true bugs. Trevor has also developed a simple key to identify seven common bug species.
These resources should help people who aren’t already familiar with these organisms find them in their own backyard. Teachers (and other interested citizen-scientists) who want to engage their students in field surveys of bug diversity are encouraged to look over the teaching module we have produced. The module makes use of these identification resources, and walks you through how to gather and submit data as a part of our collaboration!