GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will celebrate its eighth annual ButterflyFest Oct. 19-20.
The free event celebrates the importance of backyard wildlife and its role in the ecosystem and includes the largest butterfly plant sale of the year beginning Friday, Oct. 18.
Visitors will have the opportunity to view Lepidoptera specimens normally not displayed and speak with representatives from groups including the Florida Bluebird Society, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Lubee Bat Conservancy, and several museum and University of Florida divisions.
Additional family-friendly activities include live butterfly releases, a pollinator parade, live entertainment, movie screening with panel discussion and more. Florida Museum Lepidoptera researcher Jaret Daniels, who also leads the museum’s exhibits and public programs division, said the theme of this year’s event is “Water and Wildlife.”
“ButterflyFest is a family event committed to growing awareness about the many intimate connections and interactions of organisms with their environment, Daniels said. “This year’s theme highlights water and wildlife in an effort to help showcase the importance of this critical natural resource.”
Each year the museum hosts a special workshop for photographers looking to capture the ideal butterfly image. The Picture Perfect Photography Workshop runs from 8-9:30 a.m., allowing photographers access to the “Butterfly Rainforest” before it opens to the public. Participants may bring tri-pods or mono-pods, which normally are prohibited. Registrants also receive special attention and instruction from museum staff. Registration is $25.
The Florida Museum is also holding its first ButterflyFest Facebook Photo Challenge this year. Participants should submit their best pictures incorporating the “Water and Wildlife” theme to firstname.lastname@example.org by Sept. 30. The museum will post the top 10 photos on its Facebook page, and the public will select the overall winner online.
ButterflyFest activities and presentations are free, but normal admission applies for the “Butterfly Rainforest” exhibit: $10.50 for adults ($9 Fla. residents) and $6 for ages 3-17. University of Florida students and museum members receive free admission with a valid Gator 1 card. The event also features food, activity and merchandise vendors. Visitors are encouraged to bring cash, as there is no ATM available on-site.
This family-friendly event is committed to growing awareness of Florida’s butterflies and wildlife as ambassadors to the natural world.
For more information on ButterflyFest, registering for the Picture Perfect Photography Workshop or entering the ButterflyFest Facebook Photo Challenge visit www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/butterflyfest/ or call 352-273-2061.