Entomology Instructions

Thank you for being a digital volunteer! It’s very important that this work is performed in a standardized manner, so please make the effort to read and follow these instructions.

How the Process Works

We seek to balance quality and speed with our transcription process - which of course is still evolving as we continue to develop this service. At the moment, this is how our system works:

1) Anyone can start transcribing or add to a transcription of a document.

2) Once a volunteer decides they’ve “finished” and they’re ready for review, a different volunteer (who must have an account on the site) can review the transcription and either send it back for edits, or complete the transcription.

3) The finished transcript is sent to the Smithsonian, where it may be used immediately, or undergo additional work.

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Navigating the Entomology Transcription Page

To navigate the Entomology transcription page, please use the blue tabs/arrows near the top of the main box, which have the labels “Collector Details,” “Locality Details,” and “Specimen Details.” Be sure to type in or select all the information you can for the fields in each section before you click the button at the bottom that reads “Complete and Mark for Review.”

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Reading Labels

Entomology labels can come in all shapes and sizes. Since each collector creates their labels independently, some of the information you need may be found on different labels or on different locations on a label. These are some examples of what our insect labels may look like. Each photo will have at least two labels. One will contain a barcode with the USNMENT number (represented with a red D) and the other will be a locality label (represented with a blue A) containing collection data that may include collection dates, collector names and locality information. There may also be other labels that have additional information such as the collection name and/or number (represented with a green B), type status (represented with a purple C), etc. It is very important that all information on these labels be recorded somewhere in the template and in separate fields. The instructions below will help you enter the correct information in designated fields.

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Collector Details

This project includes digitized specimen labels of bumble bees, gathered from various regions, countries, and field locations.To find Collector Details, start by looking at the locality label. The locality label is the label that contains information on where the insect was collected, which will usually include the date collected and the collector.

Collector(s) (in blue)

These are the people involved in collecting the specimens. The collector is usually the only name found on the locality label. Please write them in using a [last name], [first name or initials] format (without the brackets). Click the “Add collector(s)” link to add another text field to include additional collectors. If missing, write “[Not Stated]”.

Verbatim Date (in red)

Please write the date or date range exactly as it is written on the label. For example, this date field could contain “Fall 1948”, “2-X-1948” or “October 1948”. The format of this field is flexible. If no collection date is available, please type “[Not Stated]” in this field.

Collection Date (To/From)

Enter the dates in the following format: MMM DD YYYY. If only one date is given, enter the same date in both the “to” and the “from” field. Please note, some labels may be written with Roman numerals used in place of the month. For example, 2-X-1948 or X.2.48 should be entered: Oct 02 1948. If the label date given was Fall 1948, only the year should be entered in the year field.

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Locality Details

Understanding where a bumble bee was collected is very important for conservation and distribution research. Scientists use this information to determine the ways populations develop and the impact of bees in local ecosystems around the world. To help you clarify locations, you can use http://www.geonames.org/ - it can help you determine the current state/territory place name from which specimens were collected. You can also Google locations - this is something scientists and entomologists do as well!

Verbatim Locality

The full locality information on the label should be entered exactly as it appears on the label. Please do not add any translated or current names to this field. If missing, please write “[Not Stated]”.


The country where the specimens were collected. Please enter the valid (current) country name in this field. You may have to look up this information, using http://www.geonames.org/. Use currently accepted name for the country. If missing, please write “[Not Stated]”.

State / Territory

The second level of geographic division inside country where the specimens were collected. Use currently accepted name for the Province / State / Territory. If missing, please write “[Not Stated]”.

District / County

The local political division within a State, Province or territory. If missing, please write "[Not Stated]".

Precise Locality

Any detailed information about where the specimens were collected that goes beyond country/state/district/lat-long. This may be the distance from a landmark, a state park, a mountain, etc. If missing, please write “[Not Stated]”.

Latitude + Longitude

If indicated on the label, record the exact latitude of where the specimens were collected. If in decimal format, type into the first (degrees) field. If missing, leave blank.

Elevation (from) & Elevation (to)

The numerical value of the elevation at which the specimens were collected, without the unit. If there is one elevation, enter this in both of the Elevation fields. If there is a range, such as 400-600 m, put Elevation From = “400” and Elevation To = “600”. If missing, leave blank.

Elevation Unit

The unit of measurement for the previously stated elevation range, either in feet or meters. If there is no information, please leave this field set to null.

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Specimen Details

There are often further details about the collection of specimens. Please help us capture these details.

Barcode/USNMENT Number

Every bumblebee will have a unique identifier called barcode or USNMENT Number. It will always be found on a small white label in the bottom right hand corner of the photograph. Please enter this number in the following format: USNMENT########.

Other Number(s) (in blue)

Please enter any other numbers and their identifiers (which may come before or after the number)found on the label. This may include a collection number or a preparation number. If you are unsure, it usually best to err on the side of including more information.

Label Notes (in red)

Some labels may contain information that does not fit into a designated field. This may include the original collection name, a host plant or a description of the insect. Please use this field in the following cases:

  • The label is illegible (simply type “Illegible”)
  • You do not know where to place the information
  • The entire label verbatim, if written in a language that you are not familiar
  • You are not sure what the information is about
  • The information given does not have a designated field

      If the information is found on separate labels, please enter the information in separate boxes by selecting “add label note”.

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      Additional Information on Page

      Enter any additional critical notes about each particular image in the “Notes on Transcribing this page (optional)” field.

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