Florida Museum of Natural History visitors will have the opportunity to learn about “Connections to Nature,” during this year’s annual ButterflyFest on Sept. 19.
Featuring live butterfly releases, workshops, entertainment and activities for all ages, the free event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. will focus on healthy interactions with nature, including information on biodiversity and environmental conservation, management and sustainability.
One special activity this year will be the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s launch of a butterfly component to its “Wings Over Florida” program. Previously focused solely on birding, the program now includes the rewarding of six certificates based on butterfly-watching achievement.
Florida Museum and FWC representatives will unveil the program during a brief ceremony at 1 p.m.
“We are extremely excited about the program,” said Jaret Daniels, associate curator and director of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity. “It’s a great incentive to get outdoors, reconnect with nature and improve your butterfly identification skills in the process.”
Following the unveiling, visitors may sign up for the program, start building their butterfly life list in the museum’s wildflower garden or adjacent natural area, and earn a basic level certificate.
“We want Florida’s residents and visitors to explore all the state has to offer, and looking for butterflies and native birds is a great way to do this,” said Jerrie Lindsey, director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission office of public access and wildlife viewing services. “This event is a great way to join with our partners in promoting the program and its role in conservation.”
ButterflyFest also includes a three-day plant sale Sept. 18-20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This is one of the museum’s largest sales of the year with more than 150 species and 2,500 plants. The museum also is open extended hours Sunday, Sept. 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“ButterflyFest is always so much fun, it’s a great opportunity to show our influences on nature,” said Catherine Carey, Florida Museum public programs coordinator. “There is something for everyone from our plant sales to our workshops.”
The festival also includes a children’s area, a special photography workshop in the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit, food and merchandise vendors and a pollinator parade for visitors dressed in costume.
Other participating groups including the Alachua County Office of Waste Alternatives, Lubee Bat Conservancy, Southern Lepidopterists' Society, University of Florida Wetlands Club and other museum and UF organizations.
For those looking to capture the ideal butterfly image, the “Picture Perfect Photography Workshop” from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Sept. 19-20 allows participants to photograph inside the “Butterfly Rainforest” before it opens to the public with equipment not generally permitted inside the exhibit. Museum employees also are available to help stage photos with newly emerged butterflies, and pre-registration is required. The cost is $25 for museum members and $28 for non-members, and includes exhibit admission. Participants must be at least 18 years old.
Additional information about ButterflyFest can be found at visit www.flmnh.ufl.edu/butterflyfest or by calling 352-273-2064.