North American Butterfly Association

The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) manages three independent monitoring programs. This includes the Seasonal Count Program, the largest volunteer-based butterfly monitoring program in existence, covering all the US, parts of Canada, and even some limited sites in Mexico. It is also the program with standardized survey protocols that has been running the longest (even compared to the UK!). The program was started by the Xerces Society in 1975, and patterned after the Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Counts. It was taken over by NABA in 1992 where it grew rapidly. Now, each year around 450-500 circles with a diameter of 25km are surveyed by groups of volunteers and all butterflies observed within a single day are counted. Traditionally, count circles were surveyed once per year, but in 2009, groups were encouraged to survey once in spring, summer, and fall. That is why the program, formerly known as the July 4th counts, is now known as the Seasonal Counts. Most of the information on this page refers to the Seasonal Count Program, but we also include information on NABA's other two monitoring programs: their Sightings Database (initiated in 2001) and Butterflies I've Seen, a platform to manage personal sightings records (initiated in 1998)


Coordinator: Glassberg, Jeffrey
Program Date(s): 1975
Institution Type: NGO
Species Focus: All butterfly species
Contact Person: Jeffrey Glassberg
Contact E-mail:


Protocol Type: Open search, Count, Field trip, Opportunistic
Data Type(s): Presence/absence, Abundance
Data Availability: Contact NABA to make a formal data request
Survey Focus: Adults
Incidental Data Collected: Weather, Habitat notes
Visit Frequency: Seasonal
Effort Tracking: For the Seasonal Counts, the number of hours each party spends searching for butterflies are added together to arrive at a total number of party-hours. Effort is not tracked for additional programs.
Protocol Notes: For the Seasonal Counts, a count leader establishes a count circle (25km diameter) and asks volunteers to fan out and cover as much of the circle as possible in a single day. Volunteers work within multiple parties and all butterflies observed are counted. Butterflies I've Seen and Recent Sightings are more opportunistic, with members reporting butterflies either as observed or part of a field trip.