We can always use more data, especially from new contributors -- members and non-members alike. We need data both for the more populated areas and for the "empty squares" for which we have no data at all -- Ontario is a big place! And data on rare species is nice, but so is data for the common species. Lots of data is required to document where each species is found in Ontario and, for each area, the flight period and number of broods per year. Records for past years are also welcome.


If you are putting butterfly records on, your are already contributing data to the Atlas; every year we download this data and include it in the Atlas. The same applies to (with a few limited exceptions described here). We invite you to consider some suggestions about how to submit observations in the way that will be most helpful to the Atlas. For example, we try to avoid having duplicate observations in the Atlas. So, contribute each observation to either e-butterfly or iNaturalist, but not both -- unless you check with us first to learn a non-duplicating way to do both.


You can also send us a spreadsheet of your data. However, spreadsheets have to be formatted in a certain way so that our software can make the conversion into the Atlas format automatically.


Not every observation which is available to the TEA is included in the Atlas. Butterfly observation data must be extensively cleaned and filtered in order to make it usable. For example, iNaturalist has about 34,000 observations of butterflies in Ontario in 2022, but only about 26,000 are included in the atlas. Here are the steps involved:


1. For iNaturalist observations, the starting point is the set of research-grade records that are identified to species and that are included in the Ontario Butterfly Atlas project. Thus, observations are not included if they are classified as casual, are identified only to genus or family, or are not included in the project (because the user has changed his or her iNaturalist settings to opt out).


2. Observations in iNaturalist which have been explicitly marked as "obscured" or "private" by the observer are excluded from the Atlas. This is a change in policy. Initially it applies to only recent observations, but eventually it will be extended to all observations. More detail is provided here.


3. Observations in iNaturalist that are marked as obscured/private automatically by iNaturalist (because the species is deemed threatened) are only included in the Atlas if the observer has granted permission via their user profile settings for curators of iNaturalist's Ontario Butterfly Atlas project to see their observations' location coordinates. Location coordinates are needed in order to assign observations to the right 10K square, county, etc.


4. A single observation may be included in the Atlas to represent the group where, for example, (a) the same observation is posted on both e-butterfly and iNaturalist, or (b) a person posts a number of observations of one species taken on the same day within a few metres of each other (e.g., every Monarch caterpillar seen on one plant).


5. An observation may not be included because the integrity of the observation is uncertain. For example, the lat-long may say that the observation is from extreme northern Ontario, but the verbal description says it is from High Park in Toronto. To the extent time permits, we try to contact observers to resolve these issues.


6. Observations of the Mottled Duskywing (Erynnis martialis) are not excluded from the Atlas, but they may seem to be because they do not appear on every map. Only the county and zone level maps show recent observations from areas with extant colonies. These observations are not shown in maps of 10K squares, parks or circles. This policy also applies to any associated observations of other, non-endangered species. The Mottled Duskywing is classified as an endangered species by both federal and Ontaio governments.