Justin Williams

Joined: Sep 10, 2018 Last Active: Sep 20, 2020 Monthly Supporter since December 2019

(I like spiders.)

I'm a nature/photography enthusiast based in Austin Texas with a particular interest in arthropods, especially spiders. I enjoy macro photography because it lets us share the fascinating and beautiful intricacies of the natural world on a level that can't be seen with the naked eye. I also hope to help document the wonderful biodiversity of Texas and my little corner of it here in Austin.

I do not have any formal education in entomology/arachnology but I have been interested in spiders for 10+ years and I am always learning. I always appreciate any correction or explanation on my observations or identifications. I often make a lot of IDs quickly and don't always leave comments, so please ask if you'd like me to explain why I chose a particular ID, I'm happy to explain. And feel free to tag me, I don't mind at all.

An important note about identifying spiders from photos: When we attempt to place a generic or specific ID on an observation, we are making a best guess based on what we know about the physical characteristics of different spiders. In science, spiders are generally identified by looking at the shape/structure of the genitalia under a microscope, along with other physical characteristics that are often not visible even in high quality macro photos - things like eye spacing, number/location of hairs on the legs, etc. In many cases there are multiple similar "cryptic" species or even genera that are impossible to separate even with good photos. There are also many undescribed species that look similar to the ones we know about. iNaturalist encourages us to try and figure out exactly what kind of life form we have observed (which is good! science is good!), but when it comes to spiders (and many other small arthropods) that is simply not possible much of the time. This can be frustrating to people who follow popular taxa like birds and butterflies, but it's just a fact of life with many small arthropods. So, please accept that it is often not possible to place a specific name on a spider just from photographs, and resist the temptation to try and "choose" a species.

Similarly, I would encourage you to not blindly "Agree" with an identifier (like me), even if they appear to be knowledgeable about the thing in your observation. When you agree with an ID and make an observation "Research Grade" it is sent to the GBIF and made available to researchers, and bad/unverified data can frustrate scientists. "Research Grade" observations are also used to train iNaturalist's "Computer Vision" AI, so incorrectly-identified RG observations can reduce the effectiveness of the auto-ID algorithm for future observers. So, please don't think of the "Research Grade" as a personal badge indicating a high quality photo/observation - when you click that "Agree" button, you are indicating that you believe it to be that species, based on your personal knowledge or research. Again, when it comes to small arthropods, it's often not possible to determine the exact species without a microscope, and trying to force it can cause problems for the people who study these things. I thought this was worth a few words as it comes up frequently in conversation, so thank you for reading this bit!

If you like spiders too, check out my list of interesting spiders!

For a super great book on spiders and arachnids, check out Amazing Arachnids by Jillian Cowles

Chat with me and other iNat users on the (unofficial) iNat Discord

Helpful Austin/Texas Spider & Insect Resources:

Valerie Bugh's "Austin Bug Collection"

Travis County Beetle Checklist

Texas Entomology

P.S. Almost all of my observations are from around my house in east Austin - If you are interested in any of my observations for research purposes, send me a PM.

P.P.S. Spider in my profile pic is a female Hentzia palmarum jumper - they have the cutest eyelashes! <3

View All