Visitors browsed native plants on sale, admired pollinators and participated in a festival that took place on the front lawn of the Florida Museum of Natural History this weekend to celebrate butterflies.
The museum hosted its ninth annual ButterflyFest. The free festival hosted games, middle school bands, jugglers and a plant sale. The three-day festival educated visitors about biodiversity and the butterflies’ impact on the environment.
More than 3,000 visitors attended the weekend festival.
“Biodiversity is not only the variety of life on Earth but also the basis of our life support system,” wrote Katina Prokos, a marketing assistant for the museum, in an email. “Butterflies are incredibly sensitive to changes in the environment and therefore are great indicators of the condition of an ecosystem.”
From Friday to Sunday, the museum sold more than 1,000 plants and displayed about 150 plant species.
Alice Shinkos, a resident of Jacksonville, Florida, visited the plant sale for the first time Saturday.
“What I wanted was the native plants and whatever was good for the butterflies and pollinators and the honeybees,” Shinkos, 62, said. “So this is an awesome sale.”
Pat Williams, a four-time festival volunteer, said that on average, she sold about eight to 10 plants to each person. One of the most popular plants was the blazing star, a lanky magenta flower.
“They love that one because it is so spectacular looking,” Williams, 68, said. “So that, I think, is a show-stopper.”
The festival also included a Pollinator Parade where visitors dressed up as bees, butterflies, bats or birds and pledged to protect nature. At the end of the day, visitors watched museum employees release native Florida butterflies.
“Butterflies are bioindicators,” said Catherine Carey, the Florida Museum program coordinator. “Anything that impacts their lives eventually impacts us.”
[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 10/3/2014]
Jaret C. Daniels, a curator at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, released native Florida butterflies during Saturday’s ButterflyFest event at the Florida Museum of Natural History.