The first time I saw a Red Admiral, it fluttered around wildly, obviously trying to stay far away from me and my camera. Though it landed on the ground, the butterfly must have been able to sense me walking behind it in the crunch of the leaves. I got as good a photograph as I could muster and walked away happy knowing I could just zoom in on my computer screen once I got home. That’s what I did to eventually identify it.
Today I was able to get a much more close-up and personal look at a Red Admiral. This one happened to be resting in the shade of one of my tomato plants, opening and closing its wings every few seconds. If you can believe it, I really was able to get this close – although the zoom lens of my camera came in handy, too. I couldn’t have been more than a few inches from this butterfly and it didn’t seem to mind one bit.
Just to be sure of my guess that it was a Red Admiral, I decided to research a bit more using a truly dependable source (and not some Flickr user’s account, which is handy in its own way sometimes). I came across the BAMONA Project (Butterflies and Moths of North America), a combination of two former data collection projects, one for moths and another for butterflies, that were previously supported by the US Geological Survey. Now that the two information networks have merged, it gives researchers (even novice ones like myself) a really good shot at finding what they’re looking for.
In order to collect more data and photographs of butterfly and moth sightings, the BAMONA Project allows users to create an account and submit photos, either for identification purposes or to help mark the locations of certain species. All of the user-submitted photographs used by the site are reviewed and approved by the experts at BAMONA, so there is no risk of misidentification.
As climatic changes occur and weather patterns seem to shift, butterflies and moths are moving in range a bit. There is a lot of focus and research going on regarding bees and pollination, but little is really being collected when it comes to the behavioral patterns of other pollinators, which is what makes this project so important.