Located in Osceola County, Florida, near Yeehaw Junction, the DeLuca Preserve was donated to the University of Florida Foundation by Elisabeth DeLuca in November 2020. This 27,000-acre property, originally slated for housing and economic development, encompasses a mixed landscape of cattle ranchlands, citrus groves, pristine forest, wetlands, and about 6,000 acres of high-quality prairie which is home to the endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrow. Bordering Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park to the south and centrally located between several other state conservation lands, the preserve is part of the Florida Wildlife Corridor and Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area. The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, maintains the property and conservation easement allowing for its use for scientific research, habitat and species conservation, and as an outdoor teaching laboratory.

The McGuire Center has initiated an inventory of butterflies and moths occurring within the preserve which will serve as baseline data for long-term monitoring of rare and declining taxa and future comparative projects addressing the impacts of light pollution, invasive species, and climate change on Lepidoptera diversity and population dynamics. Using traditional survey methods, specimens collected will contribute to a DNA barcode library for the Preserve’s fauna to help with taxonomic identifications, determining larval host plant relationships, as well as systematic, ecological, and evolutionary studies. Foremost, the Center is increasing our knowledge of Florida biodiversity by first addressing the question — What species are there?

A provisional and growing species list for the preserve may be viewed here. Galleries with some representatives of the Lepidoptera families encountered are included below.  Links to additional images are provided in the species list and all records from live moth images are archived in our iNaturalist project.  A variety of habitats are being sampled including those shown in the habitat gallery below.

Species List


 Family Galleries – representative species are shown for butterfly and moth families from the preserve.