Everyone likes butterflies. They are beautiful to watch and interesting to study. They are also numerous, both in individual numbers and species diversity making butterfly identification a challenge. Butterfly diversity becomes astounding in the tropics, and very few resources exist that illustrate all these species. Even in the US, some butterfly groups are highly variable geographically, and knowing a species in one part of the country does not guarantee that you will recognize the same species many miles away. Although many excellent field-guides for butterflies are currently available, succinct book format necessitates stringent selection of varieties to figure and images to include. It is hardy possible to illustrate a species in a field-guide by more than two or three images. Moreover, at this time, there are no books that comprehensively cover butterfly fauna of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
Three people - Andy Warren, Kim Davis and Mike Stangeland had a vision. Why not assemble an on-line image collection of all North American butterfly species, subspecies and forms (including all of North America, not just the US), consisting of pinned specimens, live adults, immature stages, foodplants and habitats? Each species should be illustrated not by one or two photographs as in traditional field-guides, but by many great images, contributed by expert and amateur photographers from across the globe, to show variation and different poses. Then add to this a collection of photos of original type specimens for as many taxa as possible in order to assist in the identification and study of these insects. On-line image collections, in contrast to books, make this possible.
This vision is becoming a reality. Andy, Kim and Mike have invested countless work hours and their own funds to post many thousands of correctly identified butterfly images on the Butterflies of America website. You all have been incredibly supportive and generous in sharing your images and allowing us to display them on the site (with full credit and your copyright), for everyone to see in one place. Here is what we have now:
However, the financial crisis and stock market crash has greatly reduced the available funds and available work hours for this project. This situation is jeopardizing the progress towards our vision. Don't get us wrong, all of us are even more excited about this project than ever before, and our work on the image collection is truly a labor of love; we would like to continue at full speed ahead. Bills have to be paid, images have to be stored, new photographs for missing species need to be taken in various collections across the globe, fast internet connection needs to be maintained, etc. What was easily possible before, becomes challenging now.
To rescue the project and to prevent it from slowing to a stand-still, we decided to form a non-profit charity and ask for your help. Many of you have been more than generous with your images, but other help is also needed. We recently incorporated, forming Butterflies of America Foundation, and were granted US tax-exempt status 501(c)(3). If you like what you see on the web-site and would like us to continue, please consider helping us now. All donations are tax-deductible (in the US). This is a community web-site; if you find it useful, please try to help. In these difficult times, if we can assemble the funding to support needed bandwidth and mobile internet connections, this will help keep us going.
No donation is too small at the moment! This is our first fundraising attempt, but is sincere. We view this plea as similar to those of public radio and public TV services - if you use us, please consider supporting what you see. You decide on the amount. If you vote for us, we will add as many taxa as we are able that are not yet present on the site (black lines in the species list), as rapidly as possible. Additionally, we will try to secure images of uncommon butterflies for which we currently don't have photographs available. Some of them have not yet been photographed in the wild, and will require trips to museums to secure images. We also pledge to keep our web-site free of advertisement and populated with the best quality images possible.
After our first priority of displaying all the taxa in our area is achieved, we will produce texts detailing field-marks and providing explanations of how to distinguish between similar-looking species, generate on-line identification guides and organize access to the scientific literature about these butterflies. There is no limit to what we can accomplish, collectively, to ensure that you have the best and most up-to-date, free on-line resource for butterfly identification and information.
In the event that our fundraising attempts fail, we will still maintain the site "as is", but will not be able to finish displaying all described taxa. If you have questions about our work, or have suggestions, please let us know! It is our goal to provide the best possible and most comprehensive internet resource on North American butterflies.
If you want your name or the name of your company to be shown on the supporters page, please let us know. We respect your privacy and will not display this information without your permission. Some companies match their employee's contributions to charities, please see if this is true for yours!
Thank you for your consideration,
Butterflies of America Foundation