Butterflies and Moths of North America

collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera

About the Project

The Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) project is an ambitious effort to collect and provide access to quality-controlled data about butterflies and moths for the continent of North America from Panama to Canada. The project is hosted by the Butterfly and Moth Information Network and is directed by Kelly Lotts and Thomas Naberhaus. Our goal is to fill the needs of scientists and nature observers by bringing verified occurrence and life history data into one accessible location.

BAMONA is a rich data source that grows daily. Citizen scientists of all ages and experience levels participate by taking photographs of butterflies and moths and then submitting their observations. Additional BAMONA data come from museum and personal collections, published literature, and professional lepidopterists. Quality control is provided by collaborating lepidopterists who serve as regional coordinators. Standardized data and metadata are stored in a database and accessible through the web site via checklists, species profiles, maps displaying point data, and other tools.

Why BAMONA?

There is a growing need for easily accessible, digitized, reliable, and integrated species distribution data to support scientific research. BAMONA utilizes cutting-edge technology and a vast network of recreational and professional lepidopterists to help fill this need.

In recent years, research has indicated that butterflies and other species appear to be shifting their ranges in response to climatic change. Additionally, there is evidence that some butterflies are emerging earlier in the year; this altered timing of metamorphosis may indicate ecosystem changes. Studies on pollinator declines also show alarming trends, mostly in bees, but data on other pollinators is sorely needed. Research of these types and scales require far more data than any single scientist can amass.

While museum collections, personal collections, published literature, and paper field guides contain valuable data, these sources:

  • are scattered,
  • can be out of date,
  • contain varying levels of detail,
  • can require considerable effort to access, and
  • are often known only to a limited circle of lepidopterists.

When asking complex questions, scientists need to spend time conducting analysis, not amassing data or tracking down individual personal collections one by one to map species ranges or abundance.

The BAMONA project aims to serve as a one-stop database of butterfly and moth data that scientists can use to form or to address research questions. While it is a collaborative effort between individuals with varying levels of knowledge and experience with Lepidoptera, contributors share a common goal of assembling high quality data on butterfly and moth distribution.

History of the Project

The BAMONA project is based upon work previously supported by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (1995-2003) and the USGS National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) Program (2004-2011). Learn more.

About Data Quality

Data quality is an issue for all citizen science projects because the value of the database is only as good as its weakest record. Because many species can look very similar and because it can be quite difficult to make identifications, the BAMONA project requires a photograph with each citizen science submission. Records are only accepted if a coordinator can verify a species identification from the submitted photograph. Species that cannot be distinguished by their appearance require a specimen for further examination or dissection.

Disclaimer

Maps and checklists shown on this web site display data from a variety of sources that have varying amounts of metadata such as date, specific location, and data source. If you have any questions about a species checklist or a data point seen on a map, please contact us and the details can be provided. Details of recently verified sightings can be accessed via the recent sightings page.

Data originally collected by other sources have varying amounts of supporting details. Some of these records (such as from the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center dataset) have been mapped as county centroids, not actual localities. Data collected by the BAMONA project since 2005 have included date, submitter, collection information, and location details. These records with addresses have been geocoded (when possible) to find their latitude/longitude, and other records are displayed at the latitude/longitude as submitted. The online submission process requires latitude/longitude values, so all records submitted through this process are displayed on the map using the submitted coordinates.

Users of this site need to understand that data are more complete for some species and counties/regions/states/provinces than others. Absence of a record for a particular species may mean that 1) the species does not occur there, 2) the species is present but has not been detected and reported yet, or 3) a record exists but has not yet been added to our database.