Butterflies are charismatic microfauna that provide opportunities for humans living in urbanized landscapes to directly experience biodiversity. However, very little has been published on which butterfly species currently persist in densely populated urban landscapes, such as the New York City metropolitan area. As a first step towards conservation of butterflies in this heavily populated landscape, we analyzed data on butterfly sightings in the five boroughs of New York City and adjacent counties from January 2001 to November 2009. In total, we compiled 12,732 reported sightings (5822 from within NYC limits) representing 106 butterfly species (87 from within NYC limits) that were observed and reported by 143 observers. Important butterfly locations included large parks such as Ward Pound Ridge in Westchester County (1506 observations), Hook Mountain in Rockland County (878 observations), and Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx County (801 observations). The five most abundant butterfly species were Pieris rapae, Danaus plexippus, Colias eurytheme, Papilio glaucus, and Vanessa virginiensis. Across years, the number of species and observers remained relatively consistent, although certain species were more prevalent in specific years. Some of the species represented by only a few sightings are vagrants while others may be scarce due to the New York City metropolitan area being at the edge of their range. Additional rare butterfly species may be limited by host plant availability and/or specific habitat requirements that might be increased in parks, gardens and other urban green spaces. We provide specific management recommendations for these species and discuss future research needs for conservation of butterflies in the New York City metropolitan area.