Last year, many of us who observe or collect butterflies in the Canadian Provinces were delighted at the launch of eButterfly, a sort of complement to the very popular eBird application designed to make the data collected by citizen scientists accessible to our colleagues and to scientists everywhere. This delight was tempered by frustration that the U.S. still has no such citizen science database management system for butterflies – NABA has limited utility for compiling personal data, but its quirkiness, frequent glitches, and lack of access to aggregated records have made it of very modest value. In fact, many commercial listing software packages far outstrip the capacities of NABA’s BIS database for making sense even of personal observation data.
For Canadians, eButterfly also trumped BAMONA for ease of use and ability to manipulate data.
So it was with great anticipation that I read the news last month that eButterfly is now accepting current (and historical!) U.S. records. They’re pretty sporadic so far, but eButterfly promises to be the true lep version of eBird in most of its essential data management tools.
Same as with eBird, you need to create a user ID to open an account. After that, you can submit your own data, slice and dice those data a number of ways, and see what other users have submitted for your area or for areas you are planning to visit. The data collection is especially rich for Canada and for the Northeast; I have no doubt that given a year or two and some dedicated efforts to populate eButterfly with historic observation and collection data it will be a very useful resource south of the Canadian border indeed!
Currently the system contains about 28,000 records for 334 species.