‘Amazing Butterflies’ interactive maze exhibit opens Saturday at Fla. Museum

June 9th, 2009

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Transform into a caterpillar and grow into a butterfly beginning Saturday at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s newest temporary exhibit, “Amazing Butterflies.”

In “Amazing Butterflies,” visitors experience the challenges of being a caterpillar as it morphs into a beautiful butterfly through a hands-on human maze. Along the way, they discover the ways caterpillars move, what they eat and how other creatures help them achieve their transformation.

“This exhibit is a wonderfully fun, family-friendly show and perfectly complements the experience of seeing live butterflies in our Butterfly Rainforest,” said Florida Museum exhibits director Darcie MacMahon.

Families can learn to crawl like a caterpillar by slipping into a set of caterpillar legs and using teamwork and locomotion to sprint for the finish line. Visitors will discover why carpenter ants in Panama defend metalmark caterpillars from parasitic wasps and other predators, and feed a caterpillar its lunch through team games and contests.

Kids can practice flapping giant butterfly wings, avoiding spider webs that lurk around every turn, find a butterfly mate by creating a wacky dance and learn how butterflies select a specific plant on which to lay their eggs.

“We’ve also created a souvenir garden card that kids can stamp at each station, then color in our Discovery Room which opens June 22,” MacMahon said.

After learning about butterflies inside the museum, visitors can experience the fun of real butterflies in the Butterfly Rainforest, a 6,400-square-foot screened outdoor enclosure with hundreds of butterflies from around the world, subtropical and tropical plants, and soothing waterfalls.

Every Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting, Rainforest staff members release new butterflies at 2, 3, and 4 p.m. Inside the museum, the “Wall of Wings” displays more than 13,000 scanned and actual butterfly and moth species, and visitors may observe scientists preparing specimens for the collections.

With the opening of “Amazing Butterflies” the museum is also kicking off its first Pollinator Photo Contest in conjunction with the fourth annual ButterflyFest Oct. 24-25. Photographers are encouraged to submit their best photos of bats, bees, butterflies and other pollinators for the chance to win cash and museum prizes. The contest is open to ages 10 and up. Entries will be accepted Aug. 15 – Sept. 1 at the Florida Museum, in the University of Florida Cultural Plaza at Southwest 34th St. and Hull Road, and at The Gainesville Sun, 2700 SW 13th St., Gainesville.

See www.flmnh.ufl.edu/butterflyfest for more information on the contest. ButterflyFest features family fun including gardening and photography workshops, behind-the-scenes tours, children’s activities, tagged Monarch releases, food and more.

“Amazing Butterflies” was created by the Natural History Museum in London in collaboration with Minotaur Mazes. Admission to the exhibit is $7.50 for adults ($6.50 Fla. residents), $6 for seniors and students, and $5.50 for children ages 3-12. Admission to the Butterfly Rainforest is $9.50 for adults ($8 Fla. residents), $7 for seniors and $5 for children ages 3-12. Combo rate tickets are available for admission to both exhibits. Members are admitted free to “Amazing Butterflies.” For more information call 352-846-2000 or visit www.flmnh.ufl.edu/amazingbutterflies/.

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Source: Darcie MacMahon, 352-273-2053, dmacmahon@flmnh.ufl.edu
Writer: Kelly Donovan
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu