ButterflyFest is a yearly festival hosted by the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, Florida, which is home to the incredible Butterfly Rainforest exhibit. This year’s event was October 23-24, 2010. Next years festival will be October 22-23, 2011. Learn more at there website. http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/butterflyfest/
ButterflyFest is a free event that is dedicated to increasing awareness of Florida’s butterflies. The festival had many fun activities and vendors. The Festival had food vendors, nature books for sale, local honey, butterfly art and jewelry, and even a plant sale. In addition to all these activities, the festival invited speakers including Chip Taylor from Monarch Watch. For a fee, several different workshops were offered this year.
The plant sale was a lot of fun. It was hard to choose which plant to buy! The butterflies and bees led the way and I finally chose Echinacea (photo to right). It is a great herb to have because it boosts immunity and fights infection. The photo to the left is Blanket Flower which is a native wildflower.
Both butterfly host and nectar plants were sold at the plant sale. The right photo is wild lime, food plant for the Giant Swallowtail. The photo to the left is Anise Hyssop which is valued by many species due to its nectar value.
Inside, the McGuire Center’s public exhibit showcases thousands of preserved and photographed species of moths and butterflies. It has every specimen imaginable from the largest of all moth species to the shimmering winged Blue Morpho.
This table inside showcased different species of butterflies and moths in stages ranging from egg to caterpillar and even an emerged Polyphemus moth.
At ButterflyFest, I was able to meet the artist and author Mindy Lighthipe who I am friends with on Facebook. She specializes in watercolors with botanical and natural science themes. Her paintings were showcased at the Florida Museum of Natural History during ButterflyFest. I was amazed by the intricate details exhibited in her paintings of plants and butterflies. She uses live specimens, her own photography, and microscope dissections as a reference for painting. Lighthipe lives in New Jersey and runs an art school called Studio 16.
Mindy Lighthipe’s website: http://www.studio16online.com/
Mindy Lighthipe recently published a children’s book called Mother Monarch. It is about an adult female Monarch who faces various struggles during her quest for a milkweed plant to lay eggs on. The book is beautifully illustrated with her own watercolor paintings. Mindy Lighthipe was signing books at ButterflyFest and she signed mine as well. http://mothermonarch.blogspot.com/