GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Families searching for a fun, inexpensive activity can delve into the increasingly popular world of butterfly watching thanks to a series of four publications produced by Florida Museum of Natural History lepidopterist Jaret Daniels.
Daniels is assistant director for research at the Florida Museum’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity and also works in the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, which published the “Florida Butterfly Encounters” series in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The four-booklet set sells for $7 and is available in the Florida Museum gift shops and online at www.ifasbooks.com.
“Florida is an ideal environment for butterfly watching because we have year-round sunshine, warm temperatures and a variety of native butterflies,” Daniels said. “These booklets are a great tool for anyone wanting to explore wild Florida.”
The series includes “Butterfly Watching Basics,” “50 Common Butterflies of Florida,” “Checklist of Florida Butterflies” and “Florida Butterfly Gardening.” The booklets equip budding observers and seasoned enthusiasts alike with everything they need to know to enjoy this fast-growing pastime in a portable, easy-to-digest format.
Daniels will speak about Florida’s unique butterflies and the latest conservation efforts at ButterflyFest, the Florida Museum’s annual celebration of butterflies and science Oct. 18-19. The event focuses on the conservation and preservation of birds, butterflies and backyard wildlife and features educational speakers, workshops, animal crafts and a pollinator parade for children. The museum also will release tagged Monarchs both days as part of the nationwide Monarch Watch program.
“Butterfly Watching Basics” teaches the fundamentals of butterfly habitats, observation and identification. Simple graphics explain different wing markings and shapes and a chart outlines the preferred habitats of common backyard butterflies.
“50 Common Butterflies of Florida” dedicates a full page to each of Florida’s 50 most common butterflies. Each page features full-color photos of a single butterfly species at the larva and adult stages along with facts about their behavior, size, usual habitat and reproduction.
The “Checklist of Florida Butterflies” booklet organizes butterflies by family and allows the butterfly enthusiast to record their observation locations. Symbols denote which butterflies are endangered or rare and how to report sightings of such butterflies.
For enthusiasts interested in attracting butterflies to their home or business, “Butterfly Gardening in Florida” lays out simple guidelines for garden design, plant choice and plant care. Many of the butterfly host plants listed in the booklet are available for purchase at the Florida Museum’s weekend plant sales.
“A butterfly-friendly habitat that features diverse host plants can sustain a greater variety of butterflies and that helps sustain a healthier environment” said Anne Glick, wildlife viewing section leader for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Office of Recreation Services. “By supporting and encouraging conservation efforts through recreation, butterfly watchers contribute to the health of an entire ecosystem.”
Butterfly watchers who are especially interested in Lepidoptera can become volunteers with the Florida Butterfly Monitoring Network. “Florida Butterfly Encounters” contains more information about joining this field- and web-based citizen science initiative dedicated to promoting biodiversity by surveying the health of butterfly populations throughout Florida. With the help of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the network promotes butterfly viewing along the Great Florida Birding Trail in addition to strategizing for the future care of Florida’s butterflies.
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