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“Visit the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Butterfly Rainforest!” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Butterfly Rainforest habitat at the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, April 2013

Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, April 2013

Two weeks ago, my son and I visited the fabulous Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, Gainesville Campus!  If you are a Lepidoptera lover, this is a place that I highly recommend that you visit!  In the entomology section of the museum there is a Butterfly Rainforest; a laboratory; caterpillar rearing exhibits; a pupae room; display cases of butterflies, moths, and other insects; nearly a three-storied high display of butterflies and moths in cases and/or photographs of them; models of butterflies and moths; and videos about butterflies that are presented. 

Butterfly in Butterfly Rainforest at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Morpho Butterfly (Morpho peleides) Getting Nourishment in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

The Florida Museum of Natural History includes a Butterfly Rainforest within a section that is devoted mostly to Lepidoptera – butterflies, moths, caterpillars, and pupae.  The Butterfly Rainforest is a tropically-styled habitat for butterflies and moths, and it includes many trees, plants, flowers, birds, fish, and turtles.  In the Butterfly Rainforest, we observed many different species of tropical butterflies, photographs of some of which are included in this post. 

Owl Butterfly (Caligo memnon) in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Owl Butterfly (Caligo memnon or Caligo idomeneus) in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

To me, the most beautiful of the butterflies in the Butterfly Rainforest were the Morpho butterflies.  The large Morphos (Morpho peleides) in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat have eyespots on the undersides of their brown wings, and have a beautiful, irridescent blue color on the upper side of their wings.  The striking, large Owl butterflies (Caligo memnon or Caligo idomeneus), also with beautiful eyespots, were also wonderful to view.

Idea leuconoe Butterfly in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Paper Kite (Idea leuconoe) Butterfly in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

There were also several Paper Kite butterflies (Idea leuconoe) in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat.  These butterflies may also be known as Rice Paper butterflies or Large Tree Nymph butterflies.  They butterflies are large, with a wingspan of about 4″-5″, and have black and white stripes on their wings.  They are slow and deliberate in their flight, and remind me of kites that are flying in the wind.

Parthenos sylvia Butterfly in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Brown Clipper Butterfly (Parthenos sylvia brown) in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

A couple of other butterflies that my son and I enjoyed observing in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat included the Brown Clipper (Parthenos sylvia brown) and Blue Clipper (Parthenos sylvia blue).  This butterfly has two color forms – brown and blue – and is respectively native to the Phillipines and Malaysia.  Both butterflies are beautiful to behold.  They are fast fliers; and their stripes resemble those of tigers.

Blue Clipper Butterfly (Parthenos sylvia blue) in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Blue Clipper Butterfly (Parthenos sylvia blue) in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

A very unique feature of the Florida Museum of Natural History, Lepidoptera and Entomology Section, is the Butterfly Wall.  This wall is nearly three stories high, and contains photographs of butterflies and moths, as well as display cases that show them.  It is extremely impressive!  Following are photographs of the Butterfly Wall, as well as certain sections of it.  Also to follow are pictures of the Pupae Room and Caterpillar Rearing Area.  Some of the photos may also include my son.

Section of Butterfly Wall in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Section of Butterfly Wall and my Son in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Large Section of Butterfly Wall in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Large Section of Butterfly Wall in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Section of Butterfly Wall in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Section of Butterfly Wall in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Pupae Area in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Pupae Room, and my Son, in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville,
April 2013

Pupae Area with Exotic Moths in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Pupae Room with Exotic Moths, and my Son, in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Io Moth Caterpillars Being Raised in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Silkworm Moth Caterpillars Being Raised in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Butterfly Caterpillars Being Raised in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Butterfly Caterpillars Being Raised in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Also included in the Museum were many display cases that presented butterflies, moths, and other insects.  Following are photos of a few of the display cases. 

A Butterfly Display Case in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

A Butterfly Display Case in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

A Moth Display Case Showing Males and Females of the Same Species in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

A Moth Display Case Showing Males and Females of the Same Species in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

An Exotic Moth Display Case in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

An Exotic Moth and Butterfly Display Case in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Videos educating visitors about Lepidoptera were also available for viewing at the Museum.  While my son and I were there, we watched a portion of a video about Monarch butterflies.  It was great to be able to explain to my son how Monarchs migrate and roost.

Video About Monarch Butterflies at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Video About Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus)) and my Son, at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

All of the butterflies in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat were a real treat to watch as they flew throughout the enclosure, with a few landing on their human observers.  In all, we spent about two hours at the Florida Museum of Natural History, also enjoying the Titanoboa Exhibit.  We had a really great time there, and wish we could have stayed longer!

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