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Celebrate Spring with Florida’s butterflies

Updated 03.15.2013

Feeding a butterfly at Greathouse Butterfly Farmn Earlton, Florida

Feeding butterflies at the Greathouse Butterfly Farm in Earlton, Florida

Springtime brings images of flowers blooming, bees buzzing and butterflies flitting around the garden. If you’re a boomer traveler planning a spring break in Florida, don’t spend all of your days sitting on the beach. Save some time to celebrate the season with Florida’s butterflies.

Begin your visit at Greathouse Butterfly Farm in Earlton, just a few miles down the road from Gainesville. Experiencing North America’s largest butterfly farm starts indoors with a lesson in “Butterflies 101.” Did you know that a butterfly’s proboscis works like a child’s party favor, only backwards?

Later as you walk through the garden, learn how to attract butterflies to your backyard at home. Bet you didn’t know a garden filled with butterflies requires plants for caterpillars as well as plants for grown-up butterflies. And stop spraying those weeds—butterflies love them.

For me, visiting the butterfly barn was the most fun of all. After dipping a sponge paint brush into a Gatorade solution, I giggled as butterflies landed to feed. What is it about them that makes me smile? Soon I had learned about recognizing caterpillar eggs, the stages of a chrysalis and emerging butterflies.


Butterfly rests on a leaf at the Butterfly Rainforest in Gainesville, Florida

But, wait, your spring boomer fun isn’t done yet. Stop in at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida’s campus in Gainesville to observe scientists working on the butterfly collection that spans three floors. Stroll through the Butterfly Rainforest (that’s Vivarium in butterfly expert talk) where hundreds of butterflies float in a screened enclosure.  A walking trail winds next to waterfalls decorated with sub-tropical foliage and, of course, butterflies. It’s peaceful and exhilarating all at the same time. I’d say it’s a butterfly heaven.

Did you know that the Florida Museum of Natural History participates in Butterfly Connection? It’s a program that provides free admittance to the Butterfly Rainforest for cancer patients and their caregivers as a peaceful escape from treatment and doctor’s visits. Butterfly heaven, indeed.

Have you visited a butterfly farm or vivarium? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email to ask a question or share your experience.

Disclaimer: This trip experience was provided by Gainesville/Alachua County VCB but the opinions are my own.

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