Monday, November 23, 2009

The International Butterfly Park, Butterflies Gone Wild

If you look up near the junction of those three tree branches, you can see a Florida Purplewing! Over here is a Guave Skipper! Look at the beauty of the Red Bordered Pixie. It was obvious we were at the International Butterfly center and it was also obvious that the people there knew a lot more about the butterflies then we did!
There weren't a lot of people there, the center is a work in progress, but it was really nice to wander among the flower displays and try to take closeups of all the different butterflies.
I had really expected it to be a series of domes in which captive butterflies were kept, to provide an easy access for the visitors but it wasn't that at all. Instead the paths were lined with wood chips and the butterfly were free to fly away.
The feeders and flowers kept them at the sanctuary and I had to laugh when we were told the feeders contained a mixture of sugar, fruit, and fermented beer. Who would figure such a strange brew for a butterfly feeder.
We both appreciated the expert advice as it was really hard to try to identify the butterflies with Renita's butterfly book. We also had a checklist, which helped a lot when trying to figure the exact species one was watching.
The Gulf Frittary and an Empress Leilia were two of my favorites. Renita pointed out the different types of Monarchs, a queen is pictured, and both a Pipevine Swallowtail and a Giant Swallowtail posed for our images.
We were finally driven away by the mosquitoes. Be sure to apply mosquito repellent before you go there. All in all it was well worth the price of admission. You can also purchase a year long membership and if we wintered here we probably would do so.
It was fun to see Renita, butterfly book and binoculars in hand, chasing the wild and inebriated butterflies! Clear skies.

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