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A Miami Blue Butterfly
A Miami Blue Butterfly
Photo credit: FWC/M.Wisnieski

 

The Endangered Butterflies of Florida

Miami Blue Butterfly Schaus Butterfly

 

To begin: what is a Butterfly?

A Butterfly is an insect with large colorful wings

that has several lives, like amphibians, they

go through stages or transformations.


There are 20,400 Butterfly species in the World

and 765 of them are in North America.

Florida has 189 species of Butterflies

Some Good Butterfly Facts

 

Moths and Butterflies are in the Lepidoptera Family,

 of which the Butterfly represents 9% of the total numbers.

 

Butterflies have four life stages:

the egg, larva or caterpillar and pupa or chrysalis and adult.

The life span of most Butterflies is about 7-10 days, or a few weeks,

 but some live much longer.

 

Butterflies smell and taste through receptors on their feet.

The majority of Butterflies drink the nectar of flowers,

but a few eat animal waste and a variety of other

things that have nothing to do with flowers.

 

As seen below, some Butterflies prefer the scent of

other things, as in this one's daily visits to our yard.

When the weather turned colder, this butterfly is also

still flitting around the few remaining flowers in

our yard long after the others have disappeared.

A Gulf Fritillary
A Gulf Fritillary Butterfly
agraulis vanillae
Photo credit: Walkingfox

 

Most Butterflies are active during the day, so

their beautiful colors are quite visible.

Many of them travel great distances to

return home and move on to the next

stage of their lives.


We have two Endangered Butterflies in Florida:

the Miami Blue and the Schaus Swallowtail.

A Miami Blue Butterfly
A Miami Blue Butterfly
Hemiargus thomasi bethunedaberi
Photo credit: NPS

 

Most people who live in Florida treasure

the multitude of Birds to be found here,

but just as beautiful, though not as widely known,

are the many gorgeous Butterfly species that we have.

Florida has the most Butterflies of any state East of the Mississippi.

 

Butterflies and Bees are our two most important pollinators.

These two insects are critical components of our fragile Ecosystems,

assuring us that beautiful things will continue to grow.

Like Canaries, Butterflies and Bees are also a reflection of the

well being or health of our Planet, if it is in trouble, so are they.

Florida Zebra Longwing - Our state Butterfly
A Zebra Longwing Butterfly
Heliconius charitonius
Photo credit: State of Florida

 

In 1996, the Zebra Longwing was designated

as our Official State Butterfly and it can be

found year round in all parts of the State,

especially in the South and the Everglades.

It is a daily visitor to our yard here

in the Ocala National Forest.

A Brown Swallowtail
Photo credit: Walkingfox

 

The only thing there seem to be more of than Butterflies

in our yard some days, are the Wildflowers that bring them.

Our Mimosa Tree is a favorite eating place not only

for Butterflies, but for the Hummingbirds too.


Photo credit: Walkingfox

 

What is the difference between a Butterfly and a Moth?

A Moth usually has a wider body and dull colorization, while

a Butterfly has a narrow body and normally brilliant coloring.

Moths are usually smaller than Butterflies, but not always.

But, most importantly, they outnumber Butterflies 8 to 1.


 

The Endangered or Threatened Butterflies on this site are:

Miami Blue Butterfly Schaus Butterfly

 

 

April is Florida Butterfly Month

 

Florida Butterfly Fest

October 22-23, 2011 in Gainesville at the wondrous

University of Florida Museum of Natural History.

You must see this place at least once in your life.

The Butterfly Rainforest

A Schaus Swallowtail Butterfly
A Schaus Swallowtail Butterfly
Photo credit: Dr. Emmel UF Zoology

 

Read how one person can make a difference

in reversing the extermination of a species:

Science Daily

Dr. Emmel, the man and his missions

 

If you love Butterflies, please take your children

and yourself to the UF Natural History Museum.

This world class Museum is all free except for the

Butterfly Rainforest, a wonderland filled

 with living Butterflies of every description.

The walls in the free section are covered with so many,

that it could take you hours to see all of them.

 


Places to learn more:

Defenders of Wildlife

Butterflies

 

Florida Department of Agriculture

Butterfly Facts

 

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Butterfly Viewing

 

Florida Museum of Natural History

The Butterfly Rainforest

 

Florida Natural Areas

Butterfly Gallery


National Park Service

Biscayne National Park

 

New York Times

New Butterfly Center Goes to UF in Gainesville

 

North American Butterfly Association

Butterfly Questions

 

The Lepidopterists' Society

 

University of Florida

Butterfly Gardening in Florida

Florida Butterfly Sheet

 


 

Walking with the Alligators

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