December 5, 2017
The holidays are time of lists; to do lists, shopping lists and of course the naughty and nice list. I am sure more than a few gardeners keep a bird-life list but have you ever thought about keeping a butterfly list?
Florida gardeners are known for their butterfly gardens. We plant plenty of beautiful nectar plants for the adult butterflies and provide lots of larval host plants for the caterpillars. I have even seen Master Gardeners bring a group of caterpillars devouring their last stem of milkweed or parsley into a meeting in hopes of finding adoptive “parents” for their caterpillars. We gardeners are certainly committed to our Lepidoptera.
So for all you enthusiasts out there I would like to make you aware of a program hosted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commission, the Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Florida Museum of Natural History called the Wings Over Florida butterfly program. This program is meant to encourage people to get outside and observe butterflies. Wings Over Florida provides a checklist of butterflies, a fantastic website to help you identify butterflies, and a series of six beautiful certificates to reward your viewing milestones. They have a certificate for seeing 10 species, 20 species, 40 species, 80 species, 120 species, and 150 species.
You can view the butterflies in your own garden, other butterfly gardens, or out in nature. If you are a Master Gardener or educator, think of how much fun it would be to teach a butterfly gardening class, getting people out in a butterfly garden, and then awarding certificates for seeing 10 butterflies during the first class. You would have the attendees (adults or youth) hooked on butterflies and on gardening in one class.
You can apply for your certificates online or by mail. Click on Wings Over Florida Butterflies to apply online. To apply by mail you will need to order a Checklist of Florida’s Butterflies. Fill out the application in the back of the checklist and mail it to – Wings Over Florida, P.O. Box 6181, Tallahassee, Florida 32301-6181.
-- Wendy Wilber