The BioWorks Butterfly Garden at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa contains flowers and host plants that attract native butterflies of Florida. Kristen Gilpin the keeper of the butterfly pavilion invited me on a tour of the caterpillar nursery and gardens. She rears the caterpillars of butterflies and moths that visit the gardens. Raising caterpillars and releasing healthy butterflies is critical to the survival of butterfly species.
To begin the tour Kristen showed me the caterpillar nursery and pupa of moths and butterflies she raised.
This moth caterpillar is a special guest in the caterpillar nursery. It is a Frangipani Hawk moth and was given to the Mosi Butterfly Garden by a guest. This giant caterpillar is a tropical species, but is occasionally found in southern Florida.
Each different caterpillar species are raised in reptile containers. Cuttings from the caterpillars host plants is placed in yogurt containers with water. A small ‘X’ is cut in the yogurt lid so the stem can easily slid through, but the caterpillars can not fall into the water easily. The caterpillar above is a Cloudless Sulphur feeding on Cassia flowers. When Cloudless Sulphur caterpillars eat flowers they turn yellow. When eating leaves they are green.
This Giant Swallowtail caterpillar wasn’t in the mood for getting its picture taken. When disturbed Swallowtail caterpillars reveal an osterium that is hid behind the head. Different species of Swallowtails have different color osteriums. The Giant Swallowtail has a red osterium that releases a smelly odor. I experienced it personally!
Tour of the Butterfly Garden
Next Kristen took me through the butterfly garden. Below are pictures of just a few of the many host plants for butterflies and nectar plants I saw.
The Back Woods at Mosi
Next began our adventure through the 40 acre woods, located behind MOSI, in search for Zebra Longwing butterflies. Kristen brought along her butterfly net to capture butterflies. She has caught as many as 30 butterflies at one time in her net. With ten years of experience at catching butterflies she is an expert.
Classroom at MOSI Butterfly Pavilion
MOSI has an educational classroom in the butterfly pavilion to educate children about the life cycle of butterflies. For more information visit http://www.mosi.org/bioworks.html or to follow Kristen’s blog at MOSI visit http://lepcurious.blogspot.com/ .
I want to personally thank Kristen for sharing her morning with “Elizabeth’s Secret Garden”.
My Release of 15 White Peacock Butterflies
After arriving home from MOSI, I was thrilled to find 15 of my White Peacocks ready for release. It was the perfect end to my butterfly day!