It’s fun being one of the certified waystations for migrating Monarch butterflies headed from North America to Mexico. One reason: the Annual Monarch Madness Butterfly Festival.
People of all ages stroll through the exhibits and the vivarium– a screened structure housing hundreds of butterflies and the plants they love. Kate and Marvin Wilson of Navarre especially enjoyed the vivarium. “It is just amazing to see these huge butterflies,” Kate Wilson said, pointing to a swallowtail. “The day is just perfect too; this is the day that the Lord has made just for this.”
Different stations taught visitors about insects, turtles and other creatures, gardening, ecology and more. Kids were able to make and take fun craft items related to butterflies; everyone was able to take the self-guided tour that represented the life and travels of monarch butterflies.
At the pagoda, butterflies were tagged and released for part of a scientific study.
“The tagging program is a part of a nationwide research program that helps answer questions about the geographic origins of monarchs that reach Mexico, the timing and pace of the migration, mortality during migration, and changes in geographic distribution” said Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension Santa Rosa County Agent.
“Our new booth this year was Monarch, Milkweed and More,” said president Louise Biernesser. This booth showed people how to plant and maintain milkweed, and protect monarch caterpillars and chrysalises.