“Citizen science,” public participation in scientific studies, allows people who may not be professionally-trained experts in a particular field, but are still knowledgeable in identifying species, to contribute to a field of study.
Birders are familiar with this type of project, having for many years participated in such annual events as Christmas Bird Counts and the Great Backyard Bird Count, in which they identify and count birds and then submit their results to a central repository. These thousands of records are very useful to scientists who can use the data to follow trends in bird populations and distribution, helping to show if some kinds of birds are decreasing in number or moving into new areas, for example.
But did you know that you can also contribute to the knowledge of the distribution of other species, like butterflies and dragonflies?
This page is designed to give you information about butterflies in Pennsylvania, with the hope that you may decide to help gather information about which butterflies are found in the state.
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) is a great place to start. This website is set up for anyone to contribute sightings of butterfly species, in order to get a clearer picture of the ranges of all species found. It is not set up as a database of all your sightings (like eBird, for example). The goal of BAMONA is to obtain photographic records of butterfly and moth species for every county in the US, as well as the rest of North America.
To help encourage this endeavor, NEPA Audubon will make Pennsylvania butterfly-related information available on this site. We will be keeping lists of the butterfly species positively identified in various Pennsylvania counties as well as separate lists showing the species have yet to be documented. Using the latter lists, you will be able to easily see which species you should be on the lookout for as you wander about the fields and forests of those counties.
As an example, as of early 2014, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, a very common butterfly in the state, has been documented for every county – except Susquehanna. Surely someone will go out this year and find one of these, photograph it, and submit it to BAMONA. Can you be the person to fill in this gap?
It is hoped that more and more people will take up this project, and we will begin to quickly fill in the gaps of species that surely are flying in your county, but have not yet been documented with a photograph submitted to BAMONA.
Other Sources of Information on Butterflies
Atlas of Pennsylvania Butterflies (PDF)
Ultimate Guide to Butterflies & How to Prevent Their Decline