12/28/08

Butterfly World

We visited Guy's parents in Florida for Christmas. While we were there we also visited Butterfly World, "the first and largest butterfly house in the United States".

I find it hard to believe that anyone still wants to hear Christmas music the day after Christmas, but Butterfly World was piping it in to the aviary while we were there. Do you know the tune "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year"? To be honest, I don't think I'd heard it before this year, but it seemed to be following me around since late October. Walking in to the butterfly aviary with hundreds of butterflies fluttering by with the singy-songy "it's the most wonderful time of the year, there'll be much mistletoeing, and hearts will be glowing, when loved ones are near, it's the most wonderful time of the year", I would not have been at all surprised if Snow White herself suddenly pirouetted around the corner singing to the butterflies.

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The above seemed to be about 0.01% of the butterfly species diversity we saw during our visit. Of course, the damn things don't sit still for photography, especially with all the people and children running about. I felt lucky to get any pictures in focus at all.

Some lingered on sliced bananas put out on feeder plates.

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I don't think sliced bananas would be practical in the garden, but don't you feel tempted to try this? I can imagine a whole fruit plate, artfully arranged. Sliced strawberries and figs, some peeled grapes...

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On the way in, visitors get a peek at the lab where the larvae grow.

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Until Frances mentioned it recently, I actually didn't know passiflora was a larval host plant. Here they've tucked some passiflora stems in a florist pin to keep the leaves turgid for the caterpillar to feed on.

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Visitors walk through a Passiflora promenade between exhibits; I enjoyed that very much.

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Dozens of different speces all in 25-gallon pots (I think) sitting on raised beams connected to a pergola overhead. Very nice.

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Planting these can be risky in California (and Florida too, I'm sure), where rampant growth will quickly overwhelm a neglected garden. Still, I have three.

In addition to butterflies and passionflowers, they also have lorikeets that you can handle,

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An insectarium with many different invetebrate specimens, both pinned and alive (no, not at the same time).

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Some things that I didn't need to see at all...

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Yeah, I pretty much never want to see a sign that says "Spiders are Loose".

Nephila clavipes (banana spider)

And a little nursery with butterfly plants for Florida gardens in 2-gallon pots.

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Zanthoxylum fagara.

Zanthoxylum fagara (wild lime)

Mussaenda phillipensis.

Mussaenda phillipensis

Ipomoea horsfalliae.

Ipomoea horsfalliae

We ate a snack on the patio and watched a young couple cart out several of these large Asclepias curassavica, evidently inspired to create their own butterfly garden.

Asclepias curassavica


Do visit Butterfly World if you ever find yourself in the Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale area. Admission is not cheap; check the website for discount coupons.

8 comments:

Taddie Tales said...

Beautiful photographs - I especially love the first one. Great contrast. Thank you for sharing!

Frances said...

Man oh man, Chuck, that is heaven on earth! Cool too that you got to see the laboratory where the beauties are grown. Your new camera is giving us some real gems, even with the movement of the butterflies to deal with. I think the banana thing is worth a try, must remember next summer to do it. Hope you are having a great trip, if this is an example of your days, I would say so!
Frances

Laurene said...

I just know I'm going to have nightmares tonight about those Banana spiders!

Christopher C. NC said...

My retired entomologist neighbor uses an old satellite dish, small one set on a post with drain holes drilled in, to set out fruit, not just bananas to attract the butterflies.

chuck b. said...

Interesting--maybe you can blog that for us sometime.

Weeping Sore said...

Best Christmas poinsettia pictur ever - with the butterfly. The other pics are gorgeous. Or at least, until you got to the banana spider warning. Sounds like a great holiday. Thanks for the blooming flowers - it's a nice break from cold and gloom. Happy 09!

Jon said...

Chuck,
Thanks for another interesting post and such fine photos. I'm weary of Christmas music too, and by Christmas Day my cup runneth over and I don't want to hear it until next December.
Hope y'all have a Happy New Year and all the best in 2009! (I say good riddance to 2008 which has been horrible in so many ways.)

Jon at Mississippi Garden

lisa said...

Thank you for the lovely pictures and fun tour! I've always wanted to visit one of those butterfly gardens. (BTW, I think the spider is beautiful, but you know how I am :)