Sarah Riddell

Streaming Media

Project Type

Oral Presentation

Publication Date


Department or Program

Department of Computer Science


College of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor #1

Polack, Jennifer


ButterSpy is a butterfly identification website serving the Alexandria, VA area that invites the user to observe a butterfly and then enter observations they make. The website then checks the database of butterflies and returns all possible butterflies matching the information provided. The purpose of this project was to develop an online identification application that did not involve a camera as to remove the concept of instant gratification and make the user practice their observational skills. It is geared towards people who want to practice their identification skills but consider a field guide a too overwhelming place to start. This project was written in HTML/CSS for front-end development and PHP for back-end development. SQL was also used to communicate with the database, but the administration tool phpMyAdmin was used to do most of the database interactions. An algorithm had to be designed to conduct the search for butterflies in the database with column values that matched the user input. Users had the option to input primary color (required) and then a secondary color and/or the shape of the antennae. By using multiple nested if-then statements and logical operators, ButterSpy effectively conducts a search and accurately gives results. Through the process of developing ButterSpy, I increased my proficiency in HTML/CSS, PHP, SQL and JavaScript (though JS was not used in the final product.) Additionally, I was able to practice my time management and self discipline skills, about which I discovered have lots of room for improvement. The project is available for viewing at www.butterspy.com.