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.
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.
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...
On the way in, visitors get a peek at the lab where the larvae grow.
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.
Visitors walk through a Passiflora promenade between exhibits; I enjoyed that very much.
Dozens of different speces all in 25-gallon pots (I think) sitting on raised beams connected to a pergola overhead. Very nice.
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,
An insectarium with many different invetebrate specimens, both pinned and alive (no, not at the same time).
Some things that I didn't need to see at all...
Yeah, I pretty much never want to see a sign that says "Spiders are Loose".
And a little nursery with butterfly plants for Florida gardens in 2-gallon pots.
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.
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.