Maine Butterfly Survey

With over 120 species, butterflies contribute a colorful component to Maine’s biological diversity.  Butterflies also play important ecological roles, both as pollinators of wildflowers and as prey to larger species, from dragonflies to birds.  Despite growing concern for pollinating insects generally and butterflies specifically, Maine had only a rudimentary knowledge of the group, until now.

Initiated in 2007 by IFW’s Research Assessment Section, the Maine Butterfly Survey (MBS) is a statewide survey effort designed to fill information gaps on distribution, flight seasons, and habitat relationships for one of the state’s most popular insects.  Following in the tradition of previously state-sponsored wildlife surveys, such as the Maine Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project, data generated from the MBS comes primarily from trained citizen scientists. 

There is increasing public demand for information on the status of butterflies and other wildlife in Maine. Of special note is the high proportion of our butterflies (~20%) currently considered Extinct, Endangered, or Special Concern. Statewide survey efforts could demonstrate that some species are more abundant than formerly believed, while others may merit increased attention.  By marshaling the efforts of trained volunteers from across Maine, this multi-year statewide butterfly atlas is designed to provide MDIFW and its conservation partners with a significant increase in knowledge on the status of the state’s butterfly fauna. Learn more about the MBS project and progress to date.

This work is supported by volunteer contributions, The Nature Conservancy, the State Wildlife Grants program (USFWS), and state revenues from the Loon License Plate, Chickadee Check-off and Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund.