Fla. Museum unveils new Lepidoptera education exhibits for ButterflyFest

October 23rd, 2009

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors attending the Florida Museum of Natural History’s fourth annual ButterflyFest this weekend will have an opportunity to experience the museum’s new interactive Lepidoptera exhibits.

The indoor butterfly and moth exhibits help visitors better understand the scientific value of the collections and the cutting-edge biological research that occurs in the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity. The center holds one of the world’s largest butterfly and moth collections at more than 9 million specimens.

“In highlighting our research for the public, we hope to inspire young people to get involved in science,” said Darcie MacMahon, Florida Museum assistant director of exhibits. “These informative and interactive butterfly exhibits will make learning about butterflies and moths easier and even more fun.”

The McGuire Center is the world’s largest Lepidoptera education and research facility, and scientists in the center’s labs work to save imperiled butterflies from extinction, define unknown species, and understand butterfly and moth genetic history and relationships.

At the Butterfly Rainforest Rearing Lab, visitors can view panels with text, pictures and objects explaining where the butterflies are farmed and how they are shipped and arrive at the museum.

When a scientist is in the lab, visitors may ask questions and receive instant answers using the new two-way intercom system. The lab’s new pupae display cases are made of acrylic, making them easier to clean, more secure against parasites and visually more appealing to the public. Photos displayed in the cases identify the pupae and adult butterflies. Visitors may also flip through a hands-on butterfly field guide located outside the lab that highlights the different live butterfly species displayed in the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit.

Other new viewing stations located throughout the McGuire Center include interactive reading panels and displays in front of labs focusing on collections, special projects, imaging, DNA and morphology.

The exhibits are free, though donations are accepted. For more information about the new exhibits, the Butterfly Rainforest or ButterflyFest call 352-846-2000 or visit www.flmnh.ufl.edu.

- 30 -

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