Went hiking with some friends the other day. They are not regular outdoors people (I wouldn’t say that I am as well, just more so than them). It felt like every turn or stop one of them was asking:
“What is this?”
“I don’t know…”
“What is that?”
(insert some concocted best educational guess)
Not a fan of feeling like I know nothing so took a look around and found out that there are some pretty cool apps that would allow me to answer any and all those questions. Technology is grand.
We are a pest extermination company so it seems natural for us to start off with probably the grossest of the apps, the bug identification app.
iPest1 is an ‘urban field guide’ for pests in and around your house. So when the kids ask “What is that?” you can tell them with confidence, or a better educated response. If you have an aversion to bugs then you can just let the kids take your phone and identify it themselves. Call it one of those ‘teachable moments’.
Audubon Insects and Spiders if you are going to go out there into the wild looking for insects and spiders and want to know what you are dealing with, as well as sharing with a bunch of other bug enthusiasts then the Audubon Insects and Spiders field guide app is your thing. Being part of the Audubon Society you know its geared for the outdoor explorer and the content is going to be accurate. Professional photos, lots of information, plotting maps, etc. This has it all, except butterflies, that’s in the Audubon Butterflies app.
iBird Yard+ is huge amount of information, pictures, recordings (of bird calls), range and season maps, and more of those relatively common birds you see in your yard. No longer are you stuck only knowing what a bluejay or cardinal look like, or what a wood pecker sounds like. You can open up the doors to new possibilities for your family.
GSM Wildflowers (GSM = Great Smokey Mountains) covers all those wild flowers you see out in the woods and open fields of the Great Smokey Mountains but have no clue what they are called. There are only 178 plus types of flowers, so we can’t imagine what the problem is not knowing them all. Regardless this project highlighting the Great Smokey Mountains should be in everyones smartphone or tablet device to make you an expert on our local wildflowers.
My Nature Tree Guide gives you that back pocket knowledge on what trees you are crossing paths with as you hike around the mountains or neighborhood. It isn’t overly technical biologist talk so it feels easy for occasional outdoorsy folks to navigate and identify the trees we are interested in.
Find A Fish is perfect if you have no idea whether you just pulled in a large mouth or small mouth bass, or maybe it was a trout. This app covers all the fresh water fish you will find in North America. If you do not even know where to go to look for fish then you might want to try the Fishing Sports Anglers Map app.
Star Walk might be the coolest app out there when it comes to being outside. Luckily where we are up in the mountains we can get some starry nights (that isn’t the case all over). But when we look up do we know what we are seeing? Time to pull out Star Walk and hold it up to the sky and see the constellations come together with awesome details.
Rockhound for the budding geologist or that kid who just picks up rocks wherever they go (my boys). Similar to these other apps Rockhound has tons of pictures and information. Cool part of the app is site maps section where you might be able to find certain rocks or chronicle where you did find something.
A number of these mass database apps are pretty expensive, as far as apps go, but they are much cheaper if you were to consider buying a bunch of books on these subjects. So we do not think of it as outrageous.
If you are already taking your phone or tablet outside with you then it is not a bad option to have help identifying bugs, spiders, insects, leaves, birds, fish, rocks, flowers and more.