eButterfly is most interested in butterfly checklists. A checklist is one or more observers going out for a known amount of time over a known distance and recording all species and individuals they encounter. This is the most valuable information for understanding butterfly ranges, abundance, seasonality and natural history.
Traveling and area surveys should be limited to homogeneous habitats (e.g., creosote desert, short-grass prairie) as much as possible, and ideally not be longer than 1.5 km/1 mile. Exceptionally long counts are not as useful for rigorous analysis, nor are traveling counts that span a broad diversity of habitats.
The idea is to link the butterflies you report with specific habitats (which we do through our mapping tool, remote sensing and GIS layers) and keep that in mind it's best to enter several checklists from more refined locations than it is to enter a single checklist for a very large area (e.g. Great Basin National Park) or a long traveling count (>1 mile in heterogeneous habitats).
However, don't dismay if you do not have count information for each species you saw. Reporting presence data is also useful for range maps and seasonality. In this scenario, you would be submitting an X next to the species you saw in the checklist.
All life stages count (egg, caterpillar, pupa, adult). Make sure to designate the correct lifestage in the checklist. Adult is the default. Also please do not report captive butterflies in a greenhouse, butterfly house, or zoo. If they are free flying in a cultivated garden that's fine even if they are introduced or not native.
We always prefer a photo of the butterflies attached to the checklist. One photo per species is sufficient; you do not have to acquire a photo for each individual. The photos expedite our verification process and are useful for others in the community who are learning about butterfly diversity and identification. The photos do not have to be fancy. Katy submits them from her android phone, Max prefers his digital camera with a macro lense, and Kent spends time and money getting the perfect shot. However, the photos you take should feature the diagnostic characters as best you can. You can check our blog post for Ten Steps to Better Butterfly Photography