Fla. Museum completes grant-funded native wildflower, butterfly education projects

June 26th, 2007

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently completed several major projects to help educate the public about the state’s native butterflies and wildflowers.

Funded with a $94,409 grant from the state of Florida, Florida Wildflower Advisory Council and the Florida Wildflower Foundation Inc., the “Educating the Public about Florida’s Wildflowers and Butterflies” project allowed the museum to create a new outdoor garden, indoor exhibit, web site and color brochure.

“The Florida Museum’s Butterfly Rainforest has generated considerable visitor interest in butterfly gardening,” said Florida Museum Center for Informal Science Education Director Betty Dunckel. “Our garden showcases Florida’s native wildflowers and their importance as host and nectar plants for our native butterflies.”

The 4,000-square-foot garden located west of the Florida Museum’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity complements a University of Florida initiative to use native plants in landscaping. The garden is being used as a teaching model by Florida Museum and UF classes studying botany, environmental horticulture, landscape architecture, butterfly gardening and native wildflowers.

The brochure includes 100 color photographs of Florida’s native wildflowers and butterflies and is available at the museum upon request. The photographs and additional information are included on the project’s web site in an interactive format and searchable database, www.flmnh.ufl.edu/wildflower.

On the site, visitors can see which wildflowers are good candidates for their garden, what kinds of butterflies they attract and how much water and sun they need. Information also is provided on how to attract specific butterflies.

The indoor exhibit located in the McGuire Center complements the outdoor garden through small dioramas that illustrate and explain the relationships among wildflowers and butterflies and their life cycles. Visitors can compare what they see in the dioramas with what they discover outside in the garden.

Principal investigator Dunckel and co-principal investigators Thomas C. Emmel and Jaret C. Daniels oversaw the project. Dunckel has worked for more than 30 years in informal education. Emmel is the director of the McGuire Center and has authored more than 400 publications on butterflies. Daniels, an insect ecologist, is the McGuire Center’s assistant director for research and assistant professor in Entomology.

For more information on Florida wildflowers and butterflies, call (352) 846-2000 or visit www.flmnh.ufl.edu.

Writer: Jessica Thurmond
Media contact: Paul Ramey, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu