Butterfly White Unknown

Submitted by peter.simpson2… on

New user. Seeing a few white butterflies that pass though garden not able to identify. I record sightings as White Unknown. These appear as record of Pieris and get rejected. Do you want records of White Unknown or not? 

Submitted by James Emerson on Sat, 02/09/2023 - 14:23


This is a reasonable question, but it is unlikely that your particular verifier will see it, and I'm not sure if there is a consistent position across the country (although it does seem odd if there is an option on the app to record Unknown white sp but the verifier then rejects it). Most butterfly records are verified by area-specific volunteers from Butterfly Conservation, so depending on what part of the country you are in I would recommend contacting the local branch and asking what their policy is, that way you will know whether to record them or if they only want records of things identified to species level.

Submitted by julia.miflin@o… on Sat, 02/09/2023 - 19:59


As a new Verification Assistant, I had to seek advice on this on the Butterfly Conservation intranet (for County Recorders). All the "unknown white" records I've seen to date come to IRecord from the Garden Butterfly Survey.

The response I got from Butterfly Conservation said that the records cannot be verified as correct as the record is not to species level & therefore cannot be included in final databases. Butterfly Conservation, however, are still interested in monitoring these records as they still provide information about the abundance of butterflies in gardens. So, although I have to mark these records as "Unable to verify", I still thank the recorders & say that the records are still useful for monitoring & are included in Butterfly Conservation Garden Survey reporting.

So, yes, they still want the records if you are unable to ID to species level (otherwise the "unknown white" option wouldn't be there in the first place?).


Submitted by James Emerson on Sun, 03/09/2023 - 21:21


Thanks Julia for taking the time to outline the Butterfly Conservation position. I think your way of dealing with them by including a message saying that they are still useful for monitoring and included in the reporting is a good idea because it explains why the record has been rejected.

My personal view is that BC haven't really considered it from the point of view of people submitting records. As a verifier for another group I can see statistics about how many previous records for my group have been accepted or rejected, so something like this might affect how reliable I thought a record might be from someone I didn't know. So if I was thinking of submitting something via the app and knew it would be rejected, I wouldn't do it, so if they genuinely welcome the records (by having the unknown white option) then an approach that doesn't involve then rejecting them as unable to verify (perhaps something like marking them plausible) might be more encouraging, but ultimately it is up to the Butterfly Conservation head office team to decide how they want to do things.

Submitted by julia.miflin@o… on Tue, 05/09/2023 - 19:35


I don't know whether you verify butterflies but on our verification screens I can see the numbers of that particular species verified (or not) by year & the total records verified (or not) by that recorder so the issue you raise doesn't affect my perceived reliability of that recorder for other species. If we mark records as 'Plausible' then they are accepted (not rejected as 'Unable to Verify') & will go into national databases (I think, but I am new!) & I don't think we can do this as the records aren't to species level? I hope the encouragement to continue recording comes from my comment on the verification decision...  It is a subject that no doubt will come up at future County Recorder meetings!