Saturday, August 7, 2010

Homosassa Butterfly Garden

We drove to Homosassa today to visit the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins near Old Homosassa.  The site dates back to 1851 where David Yulee operated a sugar mill for 13 years until 1864.  On the way back home we noticed a billboard for the Homosassa Butterfly Garden. We weren't really sure what to expect, but we ended up pleasantly surprised.

The visit started out with a 20 minute video that explained the life cycle of the butterfly.  It's a 34 seat air conditioned theatre with plenty of room.

Who knew?  Butterflies can lay from 100 to 4,000 eggs.

Next we proceeded into a tour of some wonderul photos of various species that are native to Florida.  There's a top and bottom photo of most of the butterflies that are prevalent in the state.

Then we saw several different eggs, catepillars, and chrysalis.  Our tour guide explained in detail exactly what types of plants and flowers attract specific types of butterflies.

The visit culminated with a release of a live butterfly into the onsite butterfly garden habitat. Major cool.

If you decide to stop by for a visit, they open at 10 a.m. and the last tour admission begins at 4:30 p.m.  They're open rain or shine.

According to the University of Florida website:
Some universal nectar plants include: zinnias, marigolds, bush lantana, salvia, daisies, coneflower, blue porterweed, black-eyed Susan, Mexican sunflower, milkweeds, pentas, thistles, verbena, butterfly bush, and shrimp plant.
During our visit to the Homosassa Butterfly Garden the pentas seemed to be getting most of the attention.  My conclusion, if you want lots of beautiful monarchs and gulf fritillary butterflies plant lots of pentas in your flower beds. But that may be oversimplifying things.  I love simple.

For more ideas about how you find Florida butterflies, visit the Fort Myers Butterfly Blog. Nick and Gayle host nature walks and talks and their website is filled with neat butterfly photos.

And if you just can't get enough information about butterflies, try Tales From the Butterfly Garden.  It will keep the Lepidoptera curious among you busy for awhile.

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