Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Join the Florida Museum of Natural History during its fourth annual ButterflyFest Oct. 24 – 25 for a weekend of fun activities focused on pollinator conservation and gardening.

ButterflyFest is a free, family-friendly event with activities and workshops emphasizing awareness and conservation of backyard pollinators and wildlife. This year’s event also features the first “Pollinator Photo Contest” with cash prizes awarded in junior and adult age divisions.

“ButterflyFest celebrates our living Rainforest exhibit and highlights the ongoing research conducted by our scientists in the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity,” said Douglas Noble, head of exhibits and public programs. “The fun, engaging atmosphere of the festival brings thousands to the museum to embrace our role in the conservation of pollinators.”

This year’s festival features wildlife research ecologist, author and artist Thomas Allen as the keynote speaker, as well as games, activities, workshops and tours for the whole family.

For more information visit or call 352-846-2000. Online registration is now available for behind-the-scene tours, field trips, and workshops.

– 30 –

ButterflyFest Event Descriptions

Pollinator Photography Contest Award Ceremony
10:15 – 10:45 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 24

Join us as we reveal the winners of our first Pollinator Photography Contest.

The Marvelous Monarch and its Migrations
11 a.m. – noon Saturday, Oct. 24
Speaker: Court Whelan

Join Court Whalen and enjoy the story of the incredible Monarch Butterfly: its life history, its ability to navigate thousands of miles south to Mexico in the fall months and back again in the spring, and how it survives to accomplish all this (and hibernation, too!) in a nine-month life span.

Pollen and Pollination
12:30 – 1:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24
Speaker: David Jarzen

Through his travels around the world, David Jarzen has seen and photographed the beauty and mystery of the flowering plants, and the mechanisms by which pollen is transported by animal and wind vectors. Join him as he helps unravel the many facets of pollen and its present and past role in flowering plant reproduction.

Florida Butterflies and their Caterpillars
1:30 – 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24
Speaker: Thomas J. Allen

Learn new caterpillar detection techniques! Thomas Allen will lead a riveting discussion on popular butterflies, moths, and their larval forms, and give tips and tricks on how to locate these appealing insects.

Native Bees: An Essential Natural Resource
3:15 – 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24
Speaker: H. Glenn Hall

Discover the secret lives of Florida’s bees with H. Glenn Hall, professor of entomology and nematology at the University of Florida. Native bees are a fascinating resource unknown to many people. Learn about the wide diversity of their appearance, nesting activity, distribution, and social behavior.

The Astounding Migrations of the Monarch Butterfly
11 a.m. – noon Sunday, Oct. 25
Speaker: Thomas Emmel

Join Tom Emmel, director of McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, and discover the complete scientific story of the amazing annual migratory journey of the Monarch Butterfly. Learn how their route takes the adults as much as 2,500 miles from southern Canada to central Mexico in the fall and then back north again in the spring return trip. See the fascinating adaptations that evolved to equip these butterflies to survive in cold and warm climates, to navigate by celestial and magnetic and chemical means, and to survive predator attacks and other hazards in this remarkable yearly saga.

Developing Gardens for Butterflies, Moths and Other Pollinators
1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25
Speaker: Thomas Allen

Join nature enthusiast and wildlife expert Thomas Allen for an insider’s look at native pollinator gardening. Allen will highlight the main reasons for going native, and give an insider’s look at the art of beekeeping. He will also discuss some of the problems facing native bees including the incursion of the African honey bee.

Florida Butterflies and Wildflowers
3:15 – 3:45 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25
Speaker: Jaret Daniels

Butterflies and native plants are intrinsically linked. Come learn about some of the best butterfly attracting wildflowers with Jaret Daniels, assistant professor of entomology and nematology at the University of Florida, and help transform your landscape into a haven for wildlife.


Butterfly Releases
1 and 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24
1 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25

Witness the release of native butterflies and tagged Monarchs as you learn about the great journey that lies ahead for them. ButterflyFest is participating for the third year in the national Monarch Watch program, which tracks the butterflies’ migration to Mexico.

Butterfly Bingo
10:30 – 11 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 24
10:30 – 11 a.m. and 2:30 – 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 25

Enjoy a new take on Bingo and learn how to identify common southeastern butterflies by their special colors and wing features.


Wildflower Walks
11 a.m. – 4 p.m., every hour on the hour, Oct. 24 – 25

Enjoy a leisurely 20-minute guided walk through the museum’s outdoor Florida Wildflower and Butterfly Garden. Discover Florida’s native wildflowers and their importance as host and nectar plants for native butterflies as you stroll through the garden with a member of the Florida Master Gardener Program. Each tour will leave from outside the front entrance of the museum.

McGuire Center Behind-the-Scenes Tours
8:30 – 9:30 a.m. and 4 – 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24 and Sunday, Oct. 25
Cost: $45 members/$50 non-members
Guides: Jacqueline Miller or Andrei Sourakov

Be among the few to see places otherwise off limits to the public. Discover what goes on behind-the-scenes of the Museum’s award-winning Butterfly Rainforest. See how this lush tropical paradise is kept brimming with stunning, exotic butterflies year-round as you are escorted by Museum curatorial and collection staff. Enjoy this guided tour that will take you behind the scenes of the rearing lab and into collection rooms to discover the unique diversity of butterflies and moths from around the world. After the tour, participants may enjoy the Butterfly Rainforest free of charge. Ages 8 and up only. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Workshops and Special Programs

Picture Perfect – Rainforest Photography
8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Oct. 24 – 25
Ages 18 and up
Cost: $25 members/$28 non-members

Snap the picture of a lifetime using a tripod or other photographic equipment not usually permitted inside the Rainforest. To help ensure the best shots possible, spaces are limited. Fee includes admission price into the Butterfly Rainforest. Please note: Photos taken at the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Butterfly Rainforest may not be used commercially. In all media and personal usage, photos should be credited accordingly as having been taken at the Florida Museum of Natural History or the Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Butterfly Pinning Workshop
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 24
Ages 18 and up
Cost: $30 members/$35 non-members

Interested in pinning butterflies? Then this workshop is for you! Join museum Lepidoptera experts and learn how to successfully rehydrate, handle, position, and spread butterflies using various pinning supplies and techniques. Workshop fee includes 2 butterfly specimens, one-foot pinning board and Reichert box to display your finished project at home.

Butterfly Garden Design
2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Saturday, October 24
Age: 18 and up
Cost: $15 members/$17 non-members
Speaker: Jeff Hansen

This workshop is designed for the butterfly gardening beginner and will provide a simple approach to designing a butterfly garden. Factors such as soil type, cold hardiness and host plants vs. nectar plants will be discussed. Learn some basic design concepts and an understanding of the essential elements required for attracting butterflies. Participants will be able to select a butterfly garden design of their choice and the designs available will cover most common situations encountered in north central Florida. Gardeners may follow the design as-is or make their own plant selections from a list of plants provided.

Off-Site Field Trip

Butterflies and Birds Field Trip
10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23
Cost: $25 members/$28 non-members
Guides: Jaret Daniels, Thomas Allen

Join butterfly field guide author Jaret Daniels and butterfly and wildlife expert Thomas Allen and experience Florida butterflies and birds in their natural habitat. Discover winged wonders of Morningside Nature Center and interact with the experts during this leisurely stroll. Transportation is not provided; participants should meet at Morningside. Ages 18 and up only.

Hiking level: Beginning, easy 1-mile walk on flat terrain. Lunch and transportation are not provided; participants should meet at Morningside Nature Center.


McGuire Center Lepidoptera Exhibits
Open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Oct. 24 – 25

A variety of exhibit experiences inside bring to life the science of Lepidoptera, starting with “What is a Butterfly?” and ending with conservation issues worldwide. The exhibit centerpiece is the “Wall of Wings,” which showcases thousands of butterfly and moth specimens and photographs, as well as film footage from around the world. Other exhibits explore stories from around the globe and interpret science occurring in the impressive collections facility and research laboratories. Free.

Butterfly Rainforest
Open 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Oct. 24 – 25

The Butterfly Rainforest is a living exhibit that supports hundreds of butterflies from around the world. This 6,400-square-foot screened enclosure features subtropical and tropical trees with soothing waterfalls, a walking path and benches. Exhibit stations inside the Rainforest help visitors understand various butterfly behaviors they will witness during their visit. Museum staff and volunteers are on hand to assist with any questions. Admission is $9.50 adults ($8 Fla. residents) and $5 children ages 3-12.

– ### –

Writer: Morgan Lamborn
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054,