Credit: BIMBY Seeker Ellen Scott

BIMBY – The Great B.C. Butterfly Search

Butterflies in My Backyard (BIMBY) is an ongoing citizen science campaign that tracks the abundance and diversity of butterfly species in British Columbia

BIMBY 2023 is on!

According to Crispin Guppy, co-author of Butterflies of British Columbia the province has 187 butterfly species, making it the most diverse in the country. However, like other insects around the world, butterflies are rapidly disappearing because of habitat loss from logging in old-growth forests, urbanization, pesticide use and climate change.

In B.C., citizen science volunteers — nicknamed BIMBY Seekers — documented 118 butterfly species in 2022. As the BIMBY (Butterflies in My Backyard) citizen science project kicks off its new season, more than 500 BIMBY Seekers throughout the province will document butterflies and the plants they rest or feed on. Their efforts will help provide scientists with a better understanding of where B.C. butterflies are found, and which species may need extra conservation efforts.

Important Information

  • Seekers will meet the BIMBY team of UBC scientists and volunteer consultants to learn about the state of B.C. butterflies and how BIMBY can help collect data in 2023.

  • Seekers will learn how to submit butterfly photos on iNaturalist.

  • Seekers participating in the BIMBY School Bioblitz will start in May, during Biodiversity Month.

  • From May to September, volunteers will be invited to join the BIMBY Speaker Series, in which experts in citizen science, butterflies, native pollinator plants and the state of B.C.’s biodiversity will share their knowledge and experience.

  • This will be emailed to Seekers starting at the end of May.

  • This will allow Seekers from different cities to meet and exchange notes with each other and BIMBY committee members.

  • This will be organized during the summer months.

  • 1) Transect Walks

    Volunteers will be invited to sign up for transect walks (Seekers who document butterflies along specific walking routes from May to September).

    2) School-based BIMBY Seekers

    Volunteers will be invited to join the BIMBY School Bioblitz during the BIMBY season.

  • This will be shared with BIMBY citizen science volunteers between October and November in a Zoom webinar.

Dr. Michelle Tseng

The most powerful aspect of transects comes when they are walked yearly for many years. Because we know the distance walked, and the speed of the Seeker, if we see an increase in butterflies along that specific route year over year, we know it is because populations are increasing, and not because more people are looking for butterflies.

UBC Zoologist, Michelle Tseng

BIMBY Seeker Sue Elwell

Picture a grown woman crawling around in the dirt. Yikes! I am 75 and should know better. But I love every minute of my time outdoors chasing those flights of fancy!

Top 2022 BIMBY Seeker, Sue Elwell

About the Butterflies in My Backyard (BIMBY) project

In 2022, the David Suzuki Foundation, in partnership with UBC zoologist Michelle Tseng and UBC Botanical Garden associate director Tara Moreau, invited residents of British Columbia to help find butterflies throughout the province.

“The main goal of BIMBY was to create a network of volunteers all over British Columbia who share the goal of documenting and photographing butterflies throughout the province,” said Michelle Tseng.

By October when the BIMBY season wrapped up, 345 volunteers from 94 B.C. communities helped submit 118 species of butterflies to iNaturalist, ranging from the common cabbage white to the highly endangered Johnson’s hairstreak.

According to John Reynolds, conservation ecologist at Simon Fraser University and past chair of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, “BIMBY seekers created data that will be used by conservation biologists to create policy to protect the most vulnerable butterfly species.”

To learn more about BIMBY, please read “BIMBY – The Great B.C. Butterfly Search Report.

Quotes from BIMBY Seekers:

BIMBY seeker Ellen Scott from Celista on the north shore of Shuswap Lake in Thomson Okanagan
“Volunteering with BIMBY seekers has brought out my inner scientist. Newly retired, I am helping with important research that BIMBY and the David Suzuki Foundation are doing to increase our understanding about the habitat and food requirements of butterflies and how human activities and climate change impact these beautiful pollinators.”

BIMBY seekers Dee McRae and Carlie Kearns from Houston
“My attraction to BIMBY was the line — BIMBY is expanding to the rest of the province. My response was that is me. I fit ‘the rest of the province.’ I forwarded the application to a friend, who was accepted’ before me, and we became the BIMBY bimbos.”

BIMBY seeker Vicki Smith from Prince George
“The favourite part about BIMBY for me is sharing what I found with my family. Prior to joining the BIMBY project, I did not know much about butterflies in the Prince George area. I learned so much by participating in the project over the summer and was delighted by the diversity of butterflies in my area. ”

BIMBY seeker Anne Mowat from Glade, West Kootenays
“It is a great experience to feel I’m contributing to fundamental research that may help us take action to preserve habitats for our endangered butterfly species.

BIMBY seeker Karen England from Creston
“Chasing butterflies allowed me moments of childish abandon — dropping whatever I was doing to simply watch, follow and score a great photo if I was lucky and patient enough!.”

To learn more about the work of BIMBY Seekers in 2022, please read the BIMBY Report.

Tara Moreau

We all have a role to play in stewarding the beautiful butterflies that share our landscapes with us. Observing and recording these species is essential to protecting them for future generations.

UBC Botanical Garden Associate Director, Tara Moreau

BIMBY Committee

Michelle Tseng

UBC zoologist and BIMBY committee member Michelle Tseng

Tara Moreau

Associate Director for UBC Botanical Garden and BIMBY committee member Tara Moreau

Stephen Deedes-Vincke

BIMBY committee member Stephen Deedes-Vincke

Michelle Chan

BIMBY committee member Michelle Chan

Daniel Koveshnikov

BIMBY committee member Daniel Koveshnikov

Alex Wong

UBC Science student and BIMBY committee member Alex Wong

2021 BIMBY Bioblitz

The amazing grade two and three students at Mitchell Elementary in Richmond, B.C., who participated in the 2021 BIMBY Bioblitz.