The Butterflies and Moths of North America's butterfliesandmoths.org site lives up to its billing as a one-stop shop for everything you'd want to know about butterflies and moths.
As the annual migration of Monarch butterflies gets underway, public interest in these amazing creatures peaks.
A database of images and species profiles helps amateurs and experts alike identify insects that you come across. (With 4,638 species profiles and hundreds of high-quality photographs, you can lose hours just clicking around ... though it's probably better to get outside!) And individuals can help the pursuit of knowledge by submitting their own observation and photos, since the site doubles as a citizen science project that aims to catalog all North American species, along with information about where they live and how their populations change over time.
Such citizen science projects are extremely important to scientists trying to understand the environment; there's money enough to build Websites and pay a handful of scientists to study the likes of butterflies and moths which, beyond being beautiful and interesting creatures, are important pollinators of plants and so play an important role in their ecosystems but there isn't enough research money to send legions of scientists into the field to gather the kind of data that citizen scientists with an affinity for insects can.
Citizen science projects are also a great way to teach kids about science and the environment, and to inspire a deep connection to nature something that's harder to do as electronics draw us indoors or draw our attention to the device held fast in our hands.
So as Spring comes to North America, and butterflies begin to flit around gardens, use the site to help identify those bright creatures you see, and help scientists out by submitting your observations.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.