New Jersey Butterfly Club

A chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA)

How To Submit A Report Of Your Butterfly Sightings

You have just finished an enjoyable day observing butterflies. By posting what you have seen on our website, you can share your observations with other butterfliers who are always anxious to learn about recent sightings in New Jersey. In addition, you will be contributing in a real way to the knowledge of population trends and where each butterfly species exists around the state. Sighting data that is collected by NABA is shared with many organizations which are studying butterflies. So each submission you enter makes you a part of "Citizen Science" - ordinary people contributing to the understanding of our natural world.

Using Our Butterfly Log - 10 Easy Steps:

Adapted, with minor revisions, from the excellent article on the South Jersey Butterfly B/Log website.

There are 2 places where you can record your observations of butterflies you see in New Jersey:

These logging systems are two of four designed by David Reese -- with the Wisconsin Butterflies Sightings Log, and the national North American Butterfly Association’s Sightings Log being the others. Users have found them to be stable, effective, and remarkably glitch-free. Generally, new observers adapt to them very quickly -- after just one or two first reports -- and find them easy to use.

Now, let's get started!

  1. Each of these systems requires its own login and password in order to enter a sightings report. Once you have signed up and logged in, to get started click the “New Sighting” link near the top right of the Recent Sightings page.

  2. Your Name: Your name is prepopulated. If you are with a group, you can fill in additional names or the name of your group/organization.

  3. Fill in the date of your sighting. Today’s date is the default. If your sighting occurred the previous day or on some past date, adjust backwards by tapping the down arrows.

  4. County: Tap the down arrow and select the county where your sightings occurred. If you visited sites in more than one location, don't combine them. Make a separate entry for each location you visit.

  5. Location: This is often a place new reporter/observers go wrong. As the instructions on the page note, “Please be specific! Include the name of the town, park, or natural area.” One of the most important purposes of our Sightings Log is to document where butterflies occur. Not helpful to that purpose are terms that mean something only to the observer, e.g. “my yard,” “in a park,” “at the beach,” and so on. “My yard in Morristown”, “Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge”, and “White Lake Park, Hardwick Twp.” represent the kind of specificity needed. See the log for examples.

  6. Comments: The Comments box comes next as you page down, and first-time reporters sometimes guess that this is the place to post species and numbers. That is not its purpose, and you might find it best to skip past this section until after you have posted species and numbers in step #8 below.

  7. Images “Select an image”: Again first-time reporters will be wise to skip past this section until after reporting species and numbers in step #8.

  8. Species: Unlike Comments and Images, this step is essential. We can use reports without comments or images. (In fact, a high percentage of our reports have no comments or images). However, we cannot use reports without species and numbers listed on the interactive checklist. You will find this checklist under Species, naming all species of the section of NJ to which your report applies. Click the group name and all members of that group will appear in a taxonomic sequence. Click on the name of each species that you have seen on the date and site and fill in the numbers that you observed. The list of names and numbers will appear on the upper right of your screen (e.g. Spicebush Swallowtail 1, Cabbage White 5, Monarch 2, Sachem 10….)

  9. If you have no Comments or Images to add, hit “Submit Sighting” when you are finished constructing your list of species and numbers. Our moderators will review your submission and, once approved, you will receive an email confirmation. If you want to comment or add an image, go to Steps 9 and 10 before hitting “Submit.”

  10. To add Comments, page back to that box and fill in your comments. See the log for typical comments -- about the time in the field, the weather, nectaring or egg-laying seen, the circumstances of the observation, and so on.

  11. To add a photograph, go to Images: Choose Files to upload your photo from your PC.

Tips & Requests For Photographers:

Photographers love to show off their photos, of course, but browse through our log and you will discover that reports with only one or two photos are generally the most eye-catching. If you want to draw attention to your photography skills, add only your very best shot or two from the day. If you photo’d a rarity -- pipevine swallowtail, little yellow, Edward’s hairstreak, long-tailed skipper, or some other special species -- resist the urge to add shots of common species that will distract from the magic of your good find.

With occasional exceptions, it is best not to overdo the number of photos you submit. More than one shot of the same species is generally a good idea only when the species is a rarity or the photos show male and female individuals. Particularly interesting photos of other subjects such as plants or other insect species are welcomed.

Our moderators humbly ask that photographers not send a cluster of shots for us to review but rather do their own winnowing of photos. We try to get reports approved and up on the log as quickly as possible. Reports with four or more shots of common species work against that goal.

When you are submitting photos, particularly from one of the tough look-alike groups -- e.g. hairstreaks, duskywings, and grass skippers -- you can speed up approvals of your reports by adding photo ID info in the Comments box, e.g. “Photo of Horace’s duskywing.” Even better, you can label your photo by changing its file name on your PC -- e.g. change IMG 675543.jpg to monarchyardJuly192020.jpg -- before uploading it. Changing photo file names is a wise practice in general for your own purposes in organizing and tracking your photos outside submission to the Sightings Log.

We hope you will try reporting three or four times and discover that the system is easy and fun. You can also take pride in your efforts as they are part of the effort to better understand and document butterflies in New Jersey.

Thank you for contributing and...

Keep At It!