The Observatory's seasonal biologists and volunteers have conducted year-round butterfly surveys in coastal Virginia for 20+ years, concentrating on the Eastern Shore and the Williamsburg area. It established the Delmarva Tip North American Butterfly Association (NABA) butterfly count, and it partnered with the Historic Rivers Chapter of VA Master Naturalists to establish a NABA count for the Williamsburg area. These counts have produced national highs for several species of butterflies including Spicebush Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Gemmed Satyr, Silver-spotted Skipper and Saltmarsh Skipper.
The Observatory has counted and tagged Monarchs in late summer and fall since 1997. It discovered a population of Giant Swallowtails on the Eastern Shore. It currently is conducting a Creole Pearly-eye study near Jamestown, which appears to be the northernmost east coast population for this rare species. It manages several public butterfly gardens.