Butterflies fill the air this weekend at museum

A butterfly flies over the crowd during one of the two releases during the 2011 ButterflyFest at the Florida Museum of Natural History. The annual event returns Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the museum. MATT STAMEY/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/FILE)

Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 12:09 p.m.

The flutter of winged insects and children will grace the grounds of the Florida Museum of Natural History on Saturday and Sunday.



What: Annual event featuring children’s activities, a pollinator plant sale, butterfly gardening workshops, Pollinator Parade and more
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Florida Museum of Natural History, Southwest 34th Street and Hull Road
Cost: Free; Butterfly Rainforest admission is $10.50, $9 for Florida residents, $6 for ages 3-17; “Peanuts... Naturally” admission is $4 adults, $3.50 Florida residents, $3 for ages 3-17.
Info: 846-2000, www.flmnh.ufl.edu

ButterflyFest, an annual celebration of butterflies and other pollinators, will offer butterfly gardening workshops, a pollinator plant sale and opportunities to learn from such educational organizations as the Alachua County Beekeepers Club, the USDA Forest Service and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

This year’s event features new interactive activities that teach kids about monarch butterfly migration and butterfly survival skills. Children also are invited to dress up in pollinator-inspired costumes to take part in the “Pollinator Parade,” which will wind around the museum at 1:30 p.m.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days with the museum open three hours earlier than usual on Sunday for the event.

Two native Florida butterfly releases will let loose more than 25 tagged monarch butterflies at 1 and 3:30 p.m. each day. The tags, attached to the underside of their wings, will allow the insects to be tracked as they migrate, says Catherine Carey, the public programs coordinator for the museum.

The event also include performances from the UF a cappella group, The Sedoctaves, the Howard W. Bishop Middle School band, the Suzuki Violin Studio of Jennifer Guzman and the UF juggling club Objects in Motion.

Jaret Daniels, the museum’s assistant director of exhibits and public programs, says the festival is a way of spreading awareness and appreciation of the natural world.

“We really want to engage people in learning about the importance of nature and the natural organisms we share this world with,” Daniels says.

Carey says most people don’t realize the vital importance of pollinators like butterflies, bees and birds that directly impact the foods humans eat.

“One out of every three bites of food can be linked to pollinators,” she says.

The three-day pollinator plant sale kicks off Friday, offering more than 120 species of nectar and host plants, which support the survival of caterpillars, butterflies and hummingbirds. Other vendors will sell items ranging from honey to homemade jewelry.

ButterflyFest is free with the exception of entrance into the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit, the “Peanuts... Naturally: Charlie Brown and Friends Explore Nature” exhibit and two of the tours.

The “Picture Perfect: Rainforest Photography” event offers photographers a chance to take up-close butterfly photos using photography equipment such as tripods that would not normally be allowed into the exhibit. This event for ages 18 and older costs $25 for museum members and $28 for non-members with preregistration required.

A behind-the-scenes tour of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity for ages 8 and older will allow visitors a chance to view rare specimens of moths and butterflies, and learn about the center’s research projects. The tour costs $40 for museum members and $45 for non-members with preregistration required.

Admission to the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit is $9 for Florida residents, $10.50 for other adults and $6 for visitors ages 3 to 17.

Proceeds from the event support the Florida Museum of Natural History’s educational and research programs, Carey says.

She says the festival is not only an eye-opening learning experience but also a way for people to connect with the world around them.

“People don’t really take enough time to see what’s around them, and this is a great way to do that,” Carey says.

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