Although they measure barely an inch across, the azures (in the genus Celastrina) cause a mile of consternation among lepidopterists. Even as these butterflies present sparks of blue, their taxonomy remains cloudy and controversial. I won’t resolve it for you here. Instead, I’ll tell you some of what we know or suspect about these blues, including revelations from recent research in Canada. Along the way, you’ll discover how butterflies can expand our knowledge of nature, and maybe even allow you to witness evolution happening in your own backyard. (more…)
Making 2018 a Big eButterfly Year
Each year eButterfly keeps growing thanks to the dedication of many butterfly watchers and professional lepidopterists. In 2017 alone, 475 species were reported to eButterfly represented by nearly 12,000 checklists comprising almost 50,000 butterfly records and over 21,000 photographs. We now have recorded 741 butterfly species at over 35,000 locations across North America by nearly 6,000 people! We hear from many users who tell us how eButterfly has helped them learn more about butterflies and has made their butterflying more fun and have more purpose. We also hear from many great butterfly watchers who say that they want to submit to eButterfly more often or that they “keep meaning to get started” but have yet to “take the plunge.” Together, let’s make 2018 a big eButterfly year! (more…)
Ten Steps to Better Butterfly Photography (new camera optional)
Spring is upon us and many of us are eager to get out butterflying with our cameras in hand to bring back a piece of those jewels home and share them with our butterflying buddies. While I don’t fancy myself as an expert photographer, I sure love to photograph butterflies and other insects. I realized over time that many tricks I took for granted to approach butterflies were foreign to many naturalists especially those new to it. After sharing some tips on how to approach butterflies and better photograph them with friends and colleagues and seeing them come back with much improved results and more species than they use to find, I thought this might be helpful to share.
Here are my 10 steps to better butterfly photography. Note these tips apply to any kind of camera from a smartphone to a professional DSLR with a macro lens. It isn’t always about the camera!
Volunteer Data Reviewers Make eButterfly Shine
Anyone who regularly submits to eButtery has come to understand our data quality process. It is of paramount importance at eButterfly. Typos happen, misidentifications happen, and well-intentioned eButterfly observers sometimes just make mistakes. All of us at Team eButterfly have done it, and we’ll do it again. Mistakes are part of surveying butterflies. Our team of volunteer reviewers works tirelessly to make eButterfy data as accurate and authoritative as possible. (more…)
Help Us Record Painted Lady Butterflies on the Move
Painted Lady butterflies are flitting about fields, gardens, roadsides and meadows throughout eastern North America and beyond. Like Monarch butterflies, with which they are sometimes confused, Painted Ladies are now migrating southward. Each fall, they vacate Canada and most of the U.S. and during winter are active only in parts of the extreme southern U.S. and Mexico. When spring arrives, they push northward to breed, sometimes arriving in the Northeast in large numbers. But they’re not as predictable as Monarchs. But, where exactly are they going? With a massive effort by volunteer citizen scientists, we can begin to piece together this migratory puzzle with butterfly checklisting. (more…)
Leveraging Citizen Science for Butterflies
From a graduate school student’s lofty dream to a full-fledged citizen science program, eButterfly celebrates its 6th year with a new publication in a special issue of the journal Insects on butterfly conservation. The article – eButterfly: Leveraging Massive Online Citizen Science for Butterfly Conservation – highlights our accomplishments and outlines the bright future of eButterfly.
The power of eButterfly and other massive online citizen science programs lies in the strength and diversity of its participants. Anyone with an interest in butterflies can participate—from the new enthusiast, to the backyard gardener, to the seasoned expert. Since 2012, over 39,000 checklists, representing 230,000 observations and comprising 682 butterfly species, have been submitted to eButterfly by over 5,500 participants. As more participants submit data, an environment of sharing and free data exchange will become the norm between butterfly enthusiasts, scientists, and conservationists. (more…)