Archive | Florida RSS for this section

“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!

“Butterflies that I’ve Never Before Seen in Georgia” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

This Spring and Summer of 2012, there are two butterflies that I saw flying around my neighborhood here in Georgia that I’ve never seen before.  In May 2012, I saw a Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus), and in late August and early September 2012, there was a Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonius) that often visited the flowers in the yard. 

In 12 years of living in Georgia, I have never before had the pleasure of observing these two species of butterflies here.  As a girl, I had seen them flying about in Florida, and considered them somewhat more of tropical types of Lepidoptera, although they really are not true tropical butterflies.  It seems, however, that they may sometimes prefer habitats that are more hot and/or moist (wet and/or humid).

The Zebra Swallowtail has wings that are long, resembling triangles, with tails that are swordlike.  It’s colors include white to bluish-green with black bands and stripes.  It also has blue and red spots on it’s wings; and the sizes and colors of the butterfly vary with the spring and summer seasons.  The Zebra Swallowtail is commonly seen in Washington, DC and Virginia, though it’s range includes Ontario, Canada, the Lake States, Southern New England States, and along the Atlanta Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida (Pyle, p. 348). 

The Zebra Longwing has wings that are narrow and long, colored in black and banded with yellow stripes.  It also has red spots on the bases of it’s wings.  The habitat of the Zebra Longwing includes thick woods, forest edges, and hammocks.  It is the State butterfly of Florida, and ranges from South Carolina to Texas, south through Latin America and the West Indies, while also appearing west to Southern California and Colorado (Pyle, p. 541).

Both of these are beautiful butterflies, and it is has been a real treat to see them flying around here in Georgia this year!  I have wondered whether or not observing them in Georgia this year is a sign of climate change and the butterflies possibly becoming more common in this area and/or extending their habitats into places in which they are more rare or unusual.  It was so incredibly hot here this summer, I would suspect that the intense heat and global warming potentially influenced the ranges of these butterflies this year.

References

Pyle, Robert M. (1981).  The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf , Inc.

Zebra Longwing Butterfly.  “Welcome to Florida.”  September 16, 2012.  http://eikaiwa-blog.blogspot.com/2010/10/zebra-longwing.html.

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly.  “Arkansas State Parks Blog: Stories and Information from Arkansas State Parks.”  September 16, 2012.  http://arkansasstateparks.wordpress.com/category/wildlife/butterflies/.

“How to Prepare Butterflies and Moths for Display the Economical Way” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Partial Display of Moths, Collected in North Carolina and Florida, 2006

Pictured above is a photo that represents half of one of my Lepidoptera display cases; I have 13 cases in all.  I have specificially included this photo here to reflect the display of butterflies and/or moths.  In this photo are moths that I collected from Florida and – mostly – North Carolina in 2006. 

Included in the photo of my display are twelve Regal Moths (also known as Royal Walnut Moths, Citheronia regalis), two Waved Sphinx Moths (Ceratomia undulosa), one Small-Eyed Sphinx Moth (Paonias myops), one Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis), one Rosy Maple Moth (Dryocampa rubicunda), one Ornate Tiger Moth (also known as Virgo Moth, Apantesis ornata), one Black Witch (also known as Giant Noctuid, Ascalapha odorata), and two Io Moths (Automeris io).   I have well-preserved them by placing many moth balls at the bottom of the display case to ward off Lepidoptera-eating pests.  And, I replace the moth balls in each case about twice each year for that purpose.

Styrofoam Spreading Board with Pinned Regal Moths, July 2012

When I was a kid and my entomology collecting interest was in full swing, my dad made me an “official” Lepidoptera spreading board.  It was a very scientific “board” that was made of two boards of soft wood, however even the softest wood was not very soft.  The two boards were arranged so that they were almost immovable, making it difficult to spread the wings of a butterfly or moth, as well as challenging to maintain the spread.  That was the fancy spreading board.

Having come a long way in collecting during the past 35 years, I now use styrofoam boards to spread the wings of butterflies and moths – yes, styrofoam boards!  And, let me say, they are absolutely the best type of spreading board one can get for the ease and pliability of use, as well as the economical cost. 

For anyone who is a beginning collector, I highly recommend the use of styrofoam boards for Lepidoptera wing-spreading as the one and only choice.  The best type of styrofoam board is similar to that pictured above, being about 12″x12″x2″.  This is because one can use scissors to carve out spaces on the styrofoam’s surface in which to place the pinned specimens.  Also, a thick board serves as protection from getting poked by the pins, since they don’t go all the way through the bottom of the board.

Also notice at the bottom, right-hand corner of the spreading board in the above-photo that there are several specialty mounting pins.  These are pins that one can purchase from an insect, entomology, or science-related company.  They come in various strengths and sizes, and are specially-coated to prevent them from rusting.  Do not use common, everyday metal pins on which to preserve insect specimens of any kind because they do rust over a period of time.

In the photo of the spreading board are two Regal moths that I collected recently from North Carolina on July 1, 2012.  Each moth is pinned using a specialty pin, and wings have been spread and allowed to dry in place for 2.5 weeks.  I have used strips of tissue paper, pinned into place, to maintain the “spread” of the moth’s wings. 

Regal Moth with Wings Setting in Preparation for Display, July 2012

 A collector should allow a butterfly’s or moth’s wings to dry for at least two weeks or more to ensure hardening, and to prevent the wings from prematurely drooping due to not having completely hardened into place.  Sometimes, it is challenging to be patient and wait several days for the butterfly’s or moth’s wings to dry, but doing so is well-worth the wait and prevents the problematic wing-sag from occurring. 

Regal Moths, North Carolina, USA, July 1, 2012

And, there you have it – see the above photo within this article to observe how beautifully these Regal Moth specimens have turned out for display!  The wings of these specimens are not perfectly-placed and have minor areas of damage, however they will be just fine for my collection!

Welcome to Lepidoptera Lovers! By Michele Babcock-Nice

Buckeye Butterfly, Georgia, USA, 2010

This blog is focused toward anyone who enjoys Lepidoptera – butterflies and moths!  This blog is also associated with the LinkedIn group, “Lepidoptera Lovers.”  Therefore, Lepidoptera Lovers is for all those who enjoy communicating, sharing information, becoming more educated, increasing their appreciation, and networking about Lepidoptera!  All Lepidoptera lovers are welcome.

There are entomology-related group(s) in LinkedIn (as of May 2012), though they are not specific to Lepidoptera – my area of love and interest in insects.  There are also two other current and specific Lepidoptera-related and/or butterfly-related groups in LinkedIn (as of May 2012), though their activity is low.

Gulf Fritillary, Georgia, USA, 2010

“Lepidoptera Lovers” on WordPress aims at creating, encouraging, promoting, and providing  educational, communicative, and interactive blog posts between people who love and/or enjoy butterflies and moths.  Issues about eggs, caterpillars, chrysallises, and and pupae are also acceptable for posting, discussion, communication, and networking, as they relate to butterflies and moths.

I have been a collector of insects – mostly butterflies and moths – since I was about 7 or 8 years old.  As I have gotten older, I have also become a Lepidoptera photographer.  Photos posted in this “Lepidoptera Lovers” blog, therefore, are those that I took, except only where specifically referenced and identified with the source.  Rather than capture butterflies and moths, physically, I now mostly capture them in photographs! 

Tiger Swallowtail on Butterfly Bush, Georgia, USA, 2010

I am fascinated by the beauty and movement of these beautiful creatures – butterflies and moths.  They bring so much beauty to our world.  They are many of God’s wondrous miracles, adding to the enjoyable beauty of our lives. 

Thank you for your interest, and welcome to my blog!