Citizen Science


Monarchs mating in Nevada

Community Science Powers New Western Monarch Studies

Published on July 30, 2019

Western monarch researchers and community scientists have been busy, contributing information vital to understanding the situation facing this imperiled population of America’s most well-known butterfly.


Monarch - Xerces Society

Working to Conserve Monarchs from Coast to Coast

Published on June 21, 2019

The migration of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus plexippus) is an awe-inspiring sight that heralds the changing seasons across much of North America. Sadly, these inspiring migrations have experienced significant declines in the past few decades. The Xerces Society is working across the U.S. to conserve this beloved species, and there are a number of ways you can help!


Brown-belted bumble bee (Bombus griseocollis)

Introducing Xerces’ Newest Community Science Project: Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas

Published on June 18, 2019

To help further our understanding of, and conservation efforts for, bumble bees, the Xerces Society has launched the Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas. This community science project offers locals the opportunity to work alongside researchers to collect data that will shed light on the distribution, status, and habitat needs of Nebraska’s bumble bees.


Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas Project Aims to Engage Community Scientists in Tracking Bumble Bees

Published on

A new project provides an opportunity for community scientists to work alongside researchers to better understand the status of Nebraska’s bumble bees. The state is home to nearly 20 different species of these charismatic and easily recognizable bees. The Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas is spearheaded by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


New iNaturalist Project Makes it Easier to Submit Data to the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper

Published on June 7, 2019

Now you can submit data to the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper using the iNaturalist app on a smartphone or tablet (iOS and Android are both supported). This new way of submitting data makes it easier to share photos and locality data—and we need all hands on deck this season, to better understand the hurdles facing the imperiled western monarch population!


Rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis)

Five Ways Wildlife Preservation Canada’s Bumble Bee Recovery & Conservation Initiatives are Benefitting from the Success of Bumble Bee Watch

Published on May 2, 2019

Since its launch in 2014, and thanks to its growing popularity each year, Bumble Bee Watch has generated an enormous dataset devoted to cataloging North America’s bumble bee fauna, and the information it contains has enabled us to tackle important questions in bumble bee ecology.


How to Support Monarch Butterfly Conservation—During Earth Week and Beyond!

Published on April 27, 2019

Helping the monarch back to full health isn’t going to be easy or quick, but we can’t stand by and do nothing. If we all plant a small patch of milkweed and nectar plants, and all think about how we can change our actions to make things better for monarchs, together we can transform the landscape to allow the monarch to rebound—and give our children the gift of watching orange wings flap in the sunshine.


Honoring Robbin Thorp, a Legendary Figure in North American Bee Conservation

Published on April 24, 2019

Robbin Thorp, Professor Emeritus at University of California–Davis, has made lasting contributions to the bee conservation community in ways that might never be measured, but will certainly be felt. As such, it is fitting to recognize this living legend of North American bumble bee conservation during Earth Week.


Yellow-banded bumble bee (Bombus terricola)

A Quest for Bumble Bee Nests: The Missing Link

Published on March 26, 2019

Researchers at York University are recruiting members from across North America for a very important mission. You will need to be vigilant, always observing. This subject is elusive. Determination, a sharp eye, and a smartphone will be your greatest assets. The mission, should you choose to accept it: find and submit sightings of bumble bee nests.


Community Scientists Can Help Support Imperiled Western Monarchs

Published on March 12, 2019

We encourage everyone to take some time while hiking in the California coast range, California Central Valley, and the rest of the West, to help researchers by submitting any and all monarch and milkweed observations this year to the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper website.


New Year’s Count of Western Monarchs Confirms Decline, Trends Seen in Previous Years

Published on February 5, 2019

Overall, the count data revealed an average decrease of 38% between the Thanksgiving and New Year’s counts.


Monarch overwintering in California

Monarch Butterflies in Western North America in Jeopardy

Published on January 17, 2019

Population of monarchs overwintering in California at lowest level ever recorded Media Contacts: Emma Pelton, Endangered Species Conservation Biologist; emma.pelton@xerces.org, (971) 533-7245 Sarina Jepsen, Endangered Species Program Director; sarina.jepsen@xerces.org, (971) 244-3727 PORTLAND, Ore.; Thursday, 1/17/19—The population of monarch butterflies overwintering in California has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded. Surveys done by volunteers with Read more …


Monarch overwintering in California

Record Low Number of Overwintering Monarch Butterflies in California—They Need Your Help!

Published on

We urge you to join us and our colleagues in the western monarch science and conservation community in taking meaningful, swift action to help save western monarchs.


Monarch overwintering in California

Early Thanksgiving Counts Show a Critically Low Monarch Population in California

Published on November 29, 2018

The California overwintering population has been reduced to less than 0.5% of its historical size, and has declined by 86% compared to 2017. While western monarchs are facing unprecedented challenges right now, there is still hope that we can recover the population if we work quickly, strategically, and together.


Monarch flying over showy milkweed, Oregon

Western Monarch Numbers Expected to Be Low this Year

Published on November 15, 2018

You may be asking “What can I do to help the monarch?” Besides protecting habitat, avoiding pesticide use, and planting gardens, another way is to contribute monarch and milkweed data to Xerces-led citizen science efforts—namely, the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count and the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper.


Viceroy and Red-spotted Purple hybrid, Limenitis archippus archippus X

My First Hybrid: Limenitis archippus archippus × Limenitis arthemis astyanax

Published on October 25, 2018

Recently, photographer Bryan E. Reynolds encountered a rare hybrid of two of his favorite butterfly species—a well-deserved sighting for a passionate lepidopterist!


Firefly jar

Keeping the Lights Burning: The Status of Fireflies in the United States and Canada

Published on October 1, 2018

If there is one thing we have discovered during our assessment effort, it is that there is still much to be learned about the world of fireflies. Xerces will continue to seek a better understanding of these enchanting animals and how best to protect them. May their lights shine on for their sakes, and for ours.


Keep Monarchs Wild!

Published on September 11, 2018

Instead of rearing—which is risky and unproven in helping monarchs—we should focus on more effective ways to conserve these glorious wild animals. Our tactics should address the reasons the species is in trouble to begin with. We can do this through taking action to protect natural habitat; to plant native milkweed and flowers; avoid pesticides; support wildlife-friendly, local, and organic agriculture; contribute to research efforts via citizen science; and organize ourselves to push for policy changes.


Surprising Results from a Survey of Bumble Bee Watch Users!

Published on May 23, 2018

This past February, Bumble Bee Watch (BBW) users were invited to take a survey run by York University researchers to learn more about participant demographics, motives, and confidence with bumble bee identification. Three hundred forty-two people from across Canada and the United States responded to the survey, representing members of various ages, locations, and years Read more …


Wildlife Preservation Canada Continues Training “Bumble Bee Watchers”

Published on January 19, 2018

There are 40 different species of native bumble bee in Canada, and evidence suggests that up to a third of them are currently in decline. One of the most extreme examples of decline is the rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis). Formerly among the most common species across its range, it is now officially listed as Read more …


Citizen Science Data Gives Proof of Need for Regulating Commercial Bumble Bees, Used in Expert Testimony

Published on October 4, 2017

While the honey bee is the most common managed crop pollinator, the common Eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) is also managed and used for crop pollination. Bumble bees are the bees responsible for virtually all of our hot house tomatoes, and many other greenhouse crops like sweet peppers. Companies rear bumble bees in captivity and Read more …


Observations by Citizen Scientists Expand Known Range of the Two-Spotted Bumble Bee

Published on

How can researchers be in more than one place at a time? By mobilizing a network of volunteers with cameras! One of the powerful aspects of Bumble Bee Watch, a citizen science project that allows contributors to record bumble bee observations, is that participants submit records of bumble bees from across North America including in Read more …


Calling all western monarch and milkweed observers!

Published on October 3, 2017

Fall is here, which means the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and monarchs from across the country are moving from summer breeding grounds back to their overwintering sites in California and Mexico. If you live in the West and have photos of monarchs and milkweed, we encourage you to post your Read more …


Hawk Watch Counters Contribute Another Season of Dragonfly Observations

Published on August 31, 2017

This article originally appeared in the newsletter of the Hawk Watch Association of North America and has been edited from its original format. Hawk Watch observers who gather every year to document the annual journey of hundreds of thousands of hawks, eagles, and vultures southward to overwintering grounds, are ideally placed to note the migration Read more …


Help Researchers Track Milkweeds and Monarchs across the West

Published on February 16, 2017

Monarch researchers are trying to understand why monarch overwintering populations are declining in the West, and we need your help! Overwintering monarch populations have declined by 74% in coastal California and more than 80% in central Mexico since monitoring began about 20 years ago. Researchers in the eastern U.S. have identified loss of milkweed (the Read more …


The Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count at 20: A record volunteer effort, but disappointing butterfly numbers

Published on February 7, 2017

In the fall of 1997, a small group of dedicated monarch scientists and volunteers set out to count how many monarch butterflies were overwintering in California, an essential step in understanding and conserving this remarkable insect and its migration. Twenty years later, the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count (WMTC) is established as one of the longest Read more …


Western Monarch Conservation: A 40 Year History

Published on February 5, 2017

It was in 1976, at the World Congress of Entomology, held in Washington. D.C., when the North American migratory monarchs were named the number one priority in world butterfly conservation. The Mexican overwintering grounds had just been located the year before, one of the greatest natural history developments of the twentieth century, and a whole Read more …


Citizen science is a wonderful thing

Published on April 21, 2016

There is much yet to be learned about insects and other invertebrates but simply not enough people observing their behavior and documenting their existence to be able to fill in the blanks of our knowledge. After all, there are tens of thousands of species to be found in each region of North America. By drawing Read more …


ID Dragonflies and Locate Hotspots: Introducing the New Dragonfly ID App!

Published on October 3, 2015

Calling all nature enthusiasts! Do you have a smartphone and want to use it to explore, identify, and marvel at the diversity of dragonfly and damselfly fauna in your backyard, local wetland, or favorite trout stream? Well, now you can! We are pleased to introduce Dragonfly ID, a first-of-its-kind app brought to you by the Read more …