NABA Butterfly Counts

What is a NABA Butterfly Count?

The North American Butterfly Association has run the Butterfly Count Program in the United States, Canada, and Mexico since 1993. Each of the approximately 450 counts consists of a compilation of all butterflies observed at sites within a 15-mile diameter count circle in a one-day period. The annually published reports provide a tremendous amount of information about the geographical distribution and relative population sizes of the species counted. Comparisons of the results across years can be used to monitor changes in butterfly populations and study the effects of weather and habitat change on North American butterflies.

SE Arizona NABA Counts

NABA count dates and meeting places listed below are current. All of these counts, except Portal, have compilation dinners which are a fun way to find out what was seen during the count. NABA asks for a $3.00 per participant fee to help defray costs of compiling the nationwide statistics that result from these counts.


Highlights from 2016 SE Area Counts Coming Soon!


Highlights from 2015 SE Arizona Counts

The Patagonia count with 97 species and the Ramsey Canyon count with 95 species had the highest species totals in the nation for 2015. The next closest was the North Warner Mountains, CA with 85 species. One of the interesting count statistics concerns the 3 counts compiled by Mary Klinkel. She managed to get the gold, silver, and bronze medals: The Sabino Canyon Spring count with 67 was the #1 spring count in the nation, the Santa Ritas Summer Count with 84 species was the #2 summer count (just behind the 85 at N. Warner Mtns), and the Santa Rita Mountains Fall count with 66 species was tied (with Francis Marion NF, SC) for #3 fall counts behind Patagonia and Ramsey Canyon.

Even more amazing is the 2015 SE AZ counts tallied the nation's high count for 80 species. This is just under 20% of all the 448 species which were found in North America last year. Of those 80 species, 5 were all-time-high record counts. This is over 20% of the 24 record high counts for 2015. Patagonia had 25 high counts and the only count that found White Angled-Sulphur and Tropical Least Skipper, and had an off-the-charts record high count of 3,327 Dull Firetips. The previous record high count for Dull Firetip was 583! Ramsey Canyon had 11 high counts and was the only count to find Saltbush Sootywing and Moon-marked Skipper. The Sabino Canyon Spring Count had 14 high counts and the only Erickson's White Skipper and White-barred Skipper. The Sabino Canyon Summer count had only 3 high counts, but two of those, Black Checkerspot and Fulvia Checkerspot were unique to that count. The Santa Rita Mtns Summer count had 22 high species counts, but none of which were only found on that count. Portal had 4 high counts and the country's only Snow Skipper. Finally, the Santa Rita Mtns Fall count had 5 high counts, with Chiracahua White and Red-bordered Satyr being unique to the nation.

Past NABA Butterfly Count Trips


September 30, 2017 - 7:30am

Meeting Place: Safeway parking lot at Continental Road (Exit 63) just west of I-19 in Green Valley
Compiler: Mary Klinkel ( or (520) 275-0163)

In 2016 this count recorded 13 national high counts including the only Red-bordered Satyrs and an all-time high count of Elf (152 individuals). Compilation Dinner TBA.

Contact the compiler for further details and to let her know you will be participating.

August 7, 2017 - 6:00am

Meeting Place: Gathering Grounds in downtown Patagonia
Compiler: Rich Bailowitz ( )

This count is almost always  in the top 3 in the nation for species numbers and many times the top count. Last year the count recorded 16 national high counts including the only White Angled-Sulphurs. Compilation Dinner will be at Wagon Wheel in Patagonia at 5 PM or so.

Contact the compiler for further details or to let him know in advance that you will be participating.


August 1, 2017 - 6:00am

Meeting Place: IHOP on Highway 92 in Sierra Vista
Compiler: Doug Danforth (

Enjoy butterflying in the Huachuca Mountains to the San Pedro River. This count always in the top 5 for species totals. This is only count which recorded Edwards’ Skipperling and Short-tailed Skipper last year. Compilation Dinner will be held in the home of Bob Behrstock and Karen LeMay in Hereford with their world class garden at 5ish.

Please contact the compiler for further details and to let him know you will be participating.

July 26, 2017 - 7:30am

Meeting Place: Safeway parking lot at Continental Road just west of I-19 in Green Valley
Compiler: Mary Klinkel ( or (520) 275-0163)

Join your new and old friends for a fun day in the field finding butterflies in the spectacular Santa Rita Mountains of SE AZ!  Meet at 7:30 a.m. on WEDNESDAY, July 26, 2017 at the Safeway parking lot at Continental Road just west of I-19 in Green Valley, if you have not staked your claim to your favorite territory prior to that time.  Everyone is welcome to join us, even if you only know one butterfly or have only a few hours you can help with this count.  Compilation dinner will be at Pub... more

July 23, 2017 - 8:00am

Meeting Place: US Forest Service Visitor’s Center, just west of Portal.
Compiler: Fred Heath (

This is the only count in the nation that regularly records Pine Satyr.

Please contact Fred if you think you might be coming or for more info.

There will not be a compilation dinner.

July 15, 2017 - 6:30am

Meeting Place: Sabino Canyon Visitor Center
Compiler: Karen Nickey ( (520) 326-2070 (no email))

With the onset of the monsoon rains and the opening of the Catalina Highway, the 22nd annual Sabino Canyon Summer butterfly count will go forward as originally scheduled for the third Saturday in July (this Saturday, July 15, 2017).

The Sabino Canyon count circle includes Sabino Canyon proper, as well as all areas along the Catalina Highway to Mt Lemmon. This count last year recorded 56 species and had high counts in the nation for 8 of those species, most of which, such as Arizona... more

March 26, 2017 -
7:30am to 4:00pm

Meeting Place: Sabino Canyon Visitor’s Center Plaza
Compiler: Mary Klinkle (


Join your new & old friends for a fabulous day in the field counting butterflies in the Santa Catalina Mountains on Sunday, March 26, 2017.  This is the 7th year for this Spring count in NE Tucson AZ.  Meet at 7:30 am at the Sabino Canyon Visitor’s Center Plaza or stake your claim to specific territory by emailing the compiler, Mary Klinkel .  Weather... more


October 2, 2016 - 7:30am

Meeting Place: McDonald's/Safeway parking lot in Green Valley at Continental exit from I-19 (exit 63) at 7:30 AM.
Compiler: Mary Klinkle (

Join your friends for fun in the field on the Fall Santa Rita Mts butterfly count in SE AZ.  We will meet at 7:30am on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016 at the McDonald's/Safeway parking lot on Continental Road in Green Valley, just west of I-19.  This count circle includes such famous butterfly areas as Madera, Montosa, Florida and Box Canyons.  Coronado National Forest pass or Senior/Golden Age/Golden Access pass is required for some areas.

If you have a favorite place you want to go, please... more

August 1, 2016 -
7:00am to 4:00pm

Meeting Place:
Compiler: Doug Danforth ()

July 31, 2016 - 7:30am

Meeting Place: McDonald's Parking Lot, Green Valley
Compiler: Mary Klinkle ()

July 23, 2016 - 8:00am

Meeting Place: Forest Service Visitor Center near Portal
Compiler: Fred Heath (

July 16, 2016 - 6:30am

Meeting Place: Sabino Canyon Visitor Center, 6:30 AM
Compiler: Karen Nickey ( (520) 326-2070)

April 3, 2016 - 7:30am

Meeting Place: the Sabino Canyon Visitors Center Plaza or stake your claim to other territory by contacting compiler Mary Klinkel at or (520) 275-0163 prior to the day of the count.
Compiler: Mary Klinkel ( )

The sixth annual Sabino Canyon Spring Butterfly Count is set for Sunday, April 3, 2016. This count includes much of the Santa Catalina mountains NE of Tucson, with excellent access to all habitats via the Catalina Highway. A Coronado National Forest parking pass or Federal annual "American the Beautiful", Senior, Access, or Volunteer Pass is required for parking at Sabino Canyon and some places on the Catalina Highway. Parking pass information can be found on the Coronado NF website:  ... more