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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 

Florida's Butterflies Have Their Special Appeal

Observe, Attract, and Support Them With These Tips

 

Last updated 8/20/2022 at 9:14am

Barbara Woodmansee.

Sweadner's Hairstreak

There's nothing quite like a bird in flight but Florida's butterflies have their own appeal. Over 190 butterfly species have been recorded in Florida, the most of any state east of the Mississippi River. Florida's famous sunshine and mild temperatures help a variety of butterfly species thrive throughout the year. These colorful insects are found across the state everywhere from the wildest trail to your own backyard, making butterfly watching a fun and easy activity for the whole family.

Butterfly watching is perfect for mornings when you want to sleep in, as butterflies are most active between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Like humans, they tend to be out on pleasantly warm days without strong winds or excessive rain. This welcoming weather can make it easy to observe key features used for identification, such as size, flight pattern, behavior, and the proportions, color and shape of the wings. Conveniently, butterflies and humans share a preference for using movement corridors to get around, so they are often found along pathways and trails, streams, power cut lines and woodland edges.

Courtesy FWC

An endangered Schaus' Swallowtail butterfly

Butterflies are best known for their attraction to flowers, where they feed on nectar. You can also look for plants being munched on by caterpillars, as there may be mature butterflies nearby. Home gardens and neighborhood parks are classic butterfly watching hotspots. However, some butterflies enjoy a different sort of meal. Species such as the Question Mark, Hackberry Butterfly, Malachite and the Southern Pearly-eye are attracted to rotting fruit, animal dung, dead animal remains or tree sap. You can also find butterflies near moist soil, mud puddles or stream banks where they may gather to drink water and to get other nutrients, such as salts and minerals.

Check out our website to learn more about Florida's butterflies.

Learn how to provide habitat for butterflies and other wildlife by ordering Planting a Refuge for Wildlife.

 

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