Frequently Asked Questions
Can others join the project?
Yes! The button below will open a registration form.
What do volunteers do for the project?
Volunteers collect data on butterflies in their local area at regular intervals throughout the year.
Volunteers set up a route and survey it at least eight times each year, during the summer: four times before July 15th, and 4 times after July 15th. Volunteers count any butterflies observed within 20 feet of them. This data is recorded on paper, and uploaded to the PollardBase website .
Ideally volunteers will survey the route over several years to record changes in butterfly populations.
Training is required, and is available on the Resources page.
Volunteers are encouraged to take pictures of the butterflies. This aids in identification. However, the primary focus should be counting.
Uploading information while surveying is discouraged. The focus is on moving at a steady pace and recording observations.
Volunteers should have a butterfly guide for their area that they can take along.
An iNaturalist account is helpful for identifying butterflies from pictures taken, but there is no need to access iNaturalist in the field while surveying.
Do I have to take pictures of the butterflies I see during a survey?
No. The primary purpose of a survey is to count butterflies.
Pictures can be used to identify butterflies at a later time. The citizens science website iNaturalist provides an automated and community-sourced identification service. An account is required to use the service.
When should I survey?
Preferably on clear days between 10 am and 4 pm, when the temperature is above 70°F and there is little wind. Depending on your location in Texas, monitoring can start as early as late February and go until late November south of I-10. North of I-10, monitoring may start as late as mid April, and end early October.
How many people can monitor a route?
At most two people should go along on a survey, the observer and an optional scribe. Only 1 person can observe butterflies. Ideally the same person will observe butterflies on all surveys during a season.
Do I need experience identifying butterflies before joining?
No! While experience is helpful, volunteers learn about common as well as rarer species of butterflies as they survey their route.
What is a route?
A route is any consistent path that a person can go along at a slow pace. Routes should include at least one ‘natural’ habitat.
How long should a route be?
A route should take between 30 minutes and 2 hours to travel at a steady pace. The distance depends, generally 1–3 miles.
How many different habitats can a route have?
Each route must have at least 1 habitat and no more than 5. Habitats may occur more than once along a route.
How are habitats named?
Habitats are named by the route founder, the first person to establish the route. Habitat names are not standardized, so observers should choose descriptive names. In urban areas, ‘roadside’ is a common name.
Other common habitat names are:
- woodland edge
Habitats along water may be named for example:
For wooded areas, including the dominant tree species in the name may be helpful.
I have a route in mind. What’s next?
Follow the instructions to create a
.kml file using either Google Maps or Google Earth. Send pictures of the habitats along with the
.kml file. Your route will be established in the website Pollardbase, and you will get an email notification when it is complete. After your route has been established, you can enter your observations.
What about moths, caterpillars, cocoons, and dead butterflies?
While all of these are interesting, volunteers record only live butterflies observed within 20 feet. Observations about moths, caterpillars, cocoons and dead butterflies can be entered in the Notes section of both the paper form and Pollardbase.
I did not see any butterflies along my route today. What should I record?
Every survey is important data! If you observed no butterflies at all, use the “No butterflies observed” species designation, and leave all numbers set to 0.
What should go in the Notes section?
Notes can be used to record a number of environmental variables. Examples include: presence/absence of other people on the trail, status of vegetation (growing, blooming, recently mowed, installed new garden), other insects observed (moths, dragonflies), as well as butterflies observed outside the survey area.
What about pictures?
Pictures are not required. However, pictures can be uploaded with the survey results. Use the “Images/Files” tab when uploading survey results to Pollardbase. Note that the pictures must not be too large, both in file size and dimensions.