Going digital! New crowdsourcing project launched | Miniature Lives Magnified

Be a digital volunteer for the Museum and help transcribe scientific data from microscope slides… We are so very excited to launch our latest citizen science project Miniature Lives Magnified.

As part of our Digital Collections Programme,  we have imaged 100,000 microscope slides of some of the world’s smallest insects and we need your help to unlock the data from the specimen labels, so that we can uncover more of nature’s secrets.

Rectangular glass microscope slide, with old handwritten labels.

Spot the wasp: we have 6,000 microscope slides of Chalcid wasps, that we would like you to help us to transcribe data from.

In partnership with our good friends from the online crowdsourcing platform Notes from Nature, today we launch our first collection called ‘The killer within: wasps but not as you know them’.

This collection focuses on a group of wasps called Chalcids (Chalcidoidea), pronounced ‘kal-sids’.  Just millimetres in length these wasps are parasitoids; they lay their eggs inside other insects, and the emerging larvae eat their host inside out, growing and pupating until they are mature enough to burst out as adults.

Insect with antennae, large eyes, wings and a multicoloured metallic body.

Just millimetres long, Chalcids, like this Perilampus aeneus are so small they are difficult to find and study. This means there are vast gaps in our knowledge and understanding of their ecology and behaviour.

But the gruesome killing habits of Chalcids has an advantageous role in our food production systems.  Many of the host species of Chalcids are plant pests that have devastating impacts on our agricultural systems and so Chalcids are used commercially, as biological control agents, a natural and more pest specific alternative to pesticides.

We are calling on the public to get online and help us type up data on when, where and who collected the specimens on these slides, so that we can unlock data that will help us better understand these gruesome yet beautiful creatures.

To take part visit Notes from Nature.

Best wishes Jade and the Citizen Science Team.