2011 Vanessa Migration Project

How to report your observations

There are now two ways you can report your observations.

1. Submit reports through our online reporting form. We have a new system that now links to a full database and a real-time interactive map. You can view and query all observations through the map page. If you have your own user name and password , you can also enter, view, and edit your own data in our database. As before, you can find your geographic coordinates from mapping tool links to other sites.

How to register to use the reporting form: If this is the first time for you to try the reporting form, you'll need to choose a username and password that you would like to use. Simply e-mail these to mariposa@iastate.edu, either alone or with an observation. We'll enter your first observation into the database, confirm your username and password, and provide some additional instructions for using the database.

To find the reporting form, click here. Once you've logged in, a table of your own data will appear. Select the Add Record button to access the entry form. The form also includes instructions and links for finding your latitude and longitude and converting these to decimal degrees. Your observations will appear on the map when we update the map by adding to it new sightings from the database. This is a quick and easy process with our new system.

 2. Submit reports directly by e-mail as in the past.
Please send us an e-mail message to
mariposa@iastate.edu with the following information:
From March 25 to April 5, 2011: Please send your observations to Rebecca Christoffel (christof@iastate.edu).

(There is a sample report at the end of this page. Again, please send us a username and password of your choice if you would like to access your own data entries.)

Your full name
Your e-mail address
What species you observed
The location where you observed the butterfly

1. Name of U.S. or Mexican state, or Canadian province.

2. You may give the name of a town/city, a park, or other landmark, AND/OR
a ZIP code or postal code, AND/OR
a county or parish name. Also, please give the latitude and longitude of your site if at all possible -- this is more important now that we have an interactive map format. Please use decimal format, for example 41.50 N, not 41.30' N, because our mapping software requires this format. Two decimal place precision is fine, but if you can pinpoint the location more exactly than this, please feel free to do so. A GPS unit or websites such as
ACME Mapper will give you four or five-place precision, which are equivalent to about 36 feet (11 meters) and 4 feet (1.1 m) in latitude, respectively.

To find your latitude and longitude, try these sites:

ACME Mapper for anywhere in the world (recommended).

U.S.A.: USGS National Mapping Information Query Form
For additional instructions to find more precise U.S. geographical coordinates from this site, click here.

Canada: Canadian Geographical Names Data Base
Mexico: Heavens Above -- page for Mexico
Central America, Caribbean, anywhere else in the world: Heavens Above

To convert from degrees, minutes, seconds to decimal degrees:
U.S. Federal Communications Commission:
DDMMSS / Decimal Degrees Conversions

Date of your sighting (month, day, year)
Type of sighting, that is, whether it was a sighting of

1. First butterfly of the season
2. Migrating individuals (give flight direction, numbers seen, and time period of observation, if possible. If you give distinct times of day, please indicate whether these are in standard or daylight saving time)
3. Presence of the butterfly in your area (give numbers seen, if possible)

Other information that would also be useful:
Weather conditions: Temperature, wind speed, wind direction, type and extent of cloudiness
Any additional comments you might want to provide on the conditions of the sighting.

A Sample Report of an Observation

Royce Bitzer

Species: Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Ames, Iowa, Iowa State University campus
ZIP code, 50011
Story County
Latitude 41.024 N, Longitude 93.634 W

Date of Sighting: April 22, 2001

Type of Sighting: Migrating individuals

Flight direction, North - northeast, 12 butterflies observed between 12:20 and 12:40 p.m. Central Daylight Time

Weather conditions: Wind, south-southwesterly at 10-15 mph, under mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid- to upper 60s.

Return to Top of Page
Return to Vanessa Migration Project Page
Return to Homepage

This page was added on March 24, 2002 and updated on March 24, 2011.