Discover eButterfly

Rick Cavasin in action.Tools and Data for Butterfly Enthusiasts

  • Track your butterfly sightings and locations
  • Organize, store and share your photos
  • Find butterflies you have never seen
  • Explore dynamic range maps
  • Share your sightings with others
  • Contribute to science and conservation


A real-time, online checklist and photo storage program, e-Butterfly is providing a new way for the butterfly community to report, organize and access information about butterflies in North America. Launched in 2011, e-Butterfly provides rich data sources for basic information on butterfly abundance,  distribution, and phenology at a variety of spatial and temporal scales across North America.

e-Butterfly is maximizing the utility and accessibility of the vast numbers of butterfly observations, photographs, and collections made each year by recreational and professional butterfly enthusiasts. With your help, we will amass one of the largest and fastest growing insect data resources to inform our understanding of ecological and agricultural systems in North America.

Through time, each participant, each observation, each checklist, and each verification builds the database. eButterfly then shares this treasure trove of butterfly data with a global community of citizen scientists, educators, lepidopterists, conservationists, and land managers. In time, this information will become the foundation for a better understanding of butterfly distribution and population trends across North America and beyond.

How Does It Work?

e-Butterfly documents the presence or absence of species as well as abundance through checklist data. A web-interface engages participants to submit their observations through interactive questions and answers. eButterfly encourages users to participate repeatedly by providing tools to maintain their personal observations and photo records as well as providing tools to enable them to visualize  data with interactive maps, graphs, and bar charts. All these features are currently available in English and French with Spanish coming soon.

A member of e-Butterfly logs into their account and enters when, where, and how they saw their butterflies. Then they are prompted to fill out a checklist of all the butterflies seen, photographed, or collected during the outing. eButterfly provides several options for data gathering including point counts, transects, and area searches. Regional experts review all submissions before they enter the database as a viable record. Taxonomic experts review unusual records that are flagged by the regional experts.

Historic Observations

e-Butterfly has included historic data from various museum collections and biodiversity institutions into the distribution and phenology features and tools. These data may help inform how butterflies populations and phenology have changed across North America.

Data Integration

e-Butterfly also collects observations from butterfly enthusiasts through portals managed and maintained by local partner conservation organizations. In this way, e-Butterfly targets specific audiences with the highest level of local expertise, promotion, and project ownership. Portals may have a regional focus or they may have more specific goals and/or specific methodologies such as monarch migration.  Each e-Butterfly portal is fully integrated within the eButterfly system.

Data Accessibility

e-Butterfly data are stored in a secure facility and archived daily. These data are accessible to anyone via the e-Butterfly website. In the future, this data will be deposited regularly with other applications developed by the global biodiversity information community. For example, e-Butterfly data plans to be part of the North American Butterfly Monitoring Network (NABMN), which integrates observational data from multiple organizations on bird populations across the western hemisphere. e-Butterfly data will be shared to international biodiversity data systems, such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). In this way any contribution made to e-Butterfly increases our understanding of butterflies and their contribution to biodiversity on our planet.