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Wildlife Park Focus on Butterflies and Bees in August 2018

By Guest Author Posted on August 2, 2018

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park invites you to discover the hidden lives of butterflies, moths and bees during the month of August.  The Park’s monthly themes feature Florida’s natural and cultural resources with special displays and programs. Learn about butterflies and bees through exhibits in the Visitor Center and in the Discovery Center.

A special program will also be offered, on “The Importance of Honey Bees” by park volunteer and member of the Nature Coast Beekeepers of West Central Florida, Mary Ann Desimone.

August displays in the Visitor Center include a photography exhibit of dozens of varieties of native butterflies by Park Volunteer Ralph Bischoff. Exhibits and activities on Florida’s butterflies and bees will also be featured in the Discovery Center inside the Park.

Honey Bee image by Ralph Bischoff

Learn about Honey Bees

Thursday, August 23, 2018, starting at 1:00 pm

A special program on Florida’s Honeybees will be presented by Mary Ann Desimone in the Florida Room at the Park’s main entrance and Visitor Center. There will be no charge to attend this program. Mary Ann Desimone, a Homosassa resident and bee enthusiast will offer a program on the Honey bees. Desimone, and husband, kept bees for 10 years. Mary Ann has been a volunteer at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park for twenty-three years. She has given many presentations on Honey Bees, as well as many other educational programs over the past twenty-three years, including programs for the Citrus County’s library system, schools, and clubs.

Mary Ann and her husband are active members of the Nature Coast Beekeepers of West Central Florida.

Her presentation will consist of an explanation of the importance of the Honey Bee. In addition, she will suggest ways to help save the Honey Bee.

Zebra Swallowtail butterfly image by Ralph Bischoff.

About Florida’s Butterflies

Did you know that there are 170 species of butterflies that are native to Florida? Butterflies, along with moths, compose the group Lepidoptera, or scale-winged insects. Most butterflies’ lifespan is only a few days to several weeks. Some exceptions include the Zebra butterflies that can live for several months. The Monarch is an exception as they overwinter and can live up to 8 months or more.

Butterflies start arriving in the spring with Swallowtails, Cabbage whites, and Gray hairstreaks being some of the first arrivals. March is the peak of the season with the first generation having passed by April. The period from mid-April through June sees the appearance of Banded hairstreaks, and Striped hairstreaks. The second generation of Swallowtails and some other butterflies also emerge during this time. The greatest abundance and diversity of butterflies occurs from August through mid-October.

Resident species are at their peak numbers and are joined by many migrating butterflies, including Cloudless sulphurs, Common buckeyes, Monarchs and the Long- tailed skippers as they fly South by the millions.

Zebra longwing is the Florida state butterfly. Image courtesy of Pat Manfredo.

What you can do to help Florida’s Butterflies…

If you wish to help butterflies, you can plant a butterfly garden and include host plants

for caterpillars and nectar plants for butterflies. Not all flowers attract butterflies; and

caterpillars do not eat the leaves of all plants. Check with your County Extension Office, local garden club or native plant society for suggestions on host and nectar plants for the butterflies in your area. The following native plants are just a few

examples of the many plants that will attract butterflies: Milkweed, Porterweed, Tropical sage, Butterfly bush, Black-eyed Susans, Wild coffee, Tampa verbena, and

Passionflower. Check with the County Extension office, or your local garden club, or native plant society for more suggestions.

Honey bee by Pat Manfredo

About Florida’s Bees

Did you know Florida is home to roughly 315 species of native bees, of which 29 of those are found only in Florida. Honeybees have been evolving for a very long time – the fossil record goes back at least 100 million years.

The Honeybee is the only bee that dies after stinging. The Honeybee is the only insect that produces food which is eaten by man.

Purple coneflowers are bee-friendly. You can plant some in your garden to help the bees.

What you can do to help Florida’s Bees

If you would like to help Florida’s bees, we suggest that you stop using insecticides. You should also avoid seeds that are coated with systemic insecticides. Plant bee-friendly flowers in your garden such as Asters, Black-eyed Susans, Purple Coneflowers, and Woodland Sage.

Also mark your calendar and come to Mary Ann Desimone’s presentation on Thursday, August 23, 2018, starting at 1:00 pm in the Florida Room of the park’s Visitor Center on US 19. Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. There is no charge to attend this program.

We encourage you to visit Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park to learn about the importance of Florida’s wildlife including butterflies and bees.  For more information on our events, please call Olivia Morrison at (352) 628-5343.

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