Miniature Lives Magnified

Close-up of the head of a chalcid wasp

At a glance

Transcribe microscope slide labels.

Type of activity: Online

Who can take part? Adults

When? Any time

How long will it take? Two minutes per slide

Cost: Free

Be a digital volunteer for the Museum. Extract research data from microscope slides of the world's smallest insects.

Why we are doing the project

The Museum is on a mission to digitise the 80 million specimens in its collection. We want to make the information the specimens hold about the natural world more openly available to scientists and the public.

We have imaged 100,000 microscope slides of tiny insects, barely visible to the naked eye. Now we need your help to transcribe information from the specimen labels so that the data can be used for scientific research.

The killer within: wasps, but not as you know them

Our first collection focuses on a group of wasps called chalcids (pronounced 'kal-sids'). These tiny wasps are parasitoids, meaning they lay their eggs inside other insects. When chalcid eggs hatch the emerging larvae eat the inside of their host. They then grow and pupate until mature enough to burst out as adults, finally killing the host.

This unique life cycle makes chalcids an important biological control agent, protecting crops and reducing invasive species.

How to take part

1. Visit the Notes from Nature website. The next batch of chalcid slides will be available at the end of March.

2. (Optional) Register as a member of Zooniverse.

3. Choose the 'Magnified' group.

4. Follow the instructions to transcribe the data from our microscope slides.

Thank you to everyone who helped us transcribe the first two batches of 2,097 slides.

Project team

About the digital collections programme

In partnership with Notes from Nature, a National Science Foundation-funded project.

Visit the Notes from Nature website below.

Come to a talk

Meet two of the team involved in the Miniature Lives Magnified project. Free, no booking required.

Friday 24 March, 14.30-15.00

Discover more about parasitoid wasps

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