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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Where the Boys and Butterflies Are

 Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Hi Blog!

Camped in Pembroke Pines, we are close enough to visit with our friends Ron and Brian over in Fort Lauderdale. They invited us to join them, and their friend Richard, on an adventure to Butterfly World. Of course, we said "Yes!" Who doesn't like butterflies? 

Butterfly World is located in Tradewinds Park in Coconut Creek, Florida. It opened in 1988, and it is one of the largest butterfly parks in the world. The facility houses around 20,000 live butterflies.

While we waited for the boys to arrive, we had time for our traditional selfy!

Thanks to Ron and Brian, we had an $8.00-off admission coupon! We started our tour in the laboratory where we learned that there are four stages in the metamorphosis of butterflies and moths: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Richard noticed right away that the eggs were laid on the leaves of the passionflower vine. Apparently, different butterflies prefer different varieties of passionflower. These plants will then become the food for the hatching caterpillars.

The next stage is the larva. This is also called a caterpillar whether the insect is a butterfly or a moth. The job of the caterpillar is to eat and eat and eat. As the caterpillar grows it splits its skin and sheds it about 4 or 5 times. Food eaten at this time is stored and used later as an adult. Caterpillars can grow 100 times their size during this stage. We watched as these caterpillars make quick work of the passionflower leaves.

When the caterpillar is full grown and stops eating, it becomes a pupa. The pupa of butterflies are also called a chrysalis. Depending on the species, the pupa may suspended under a branch, hidden in leaves or buried underground. It may look like nothing is going on but big changes are happening inside. Special cells that were present in the larva are now growing rapidly. They will become the legs, wings, eyes and other parts of the adult butterfly. The caterpillar's job was to eat. The adult's job is to mate and lay eggs. 

After the laboratory, we entered the aviary. This is where all the mating happens. There were so many different kinds of butterflies flitting around, we didn't know where to start. If we had one photo, we must have ended up with over 100. The following are just a sample of some of the more interesting ones.

When we weren't chasing butterflies, we stopped to watch the playful finches enjoying their breakfast.

After strolling through the hanging garden and tropical rain forest, we stopped at the Butterfly Museum and Bug Zoo. The exhibits included butterflies from around the world.

The bug zoo had enclosures with scorpions, hissing cockroaches, millipedes and tarantulas.

To erase the memory of all those creepy crawlies, here is a picture of a pretty little green frog:

As we learned earlier, the butterflies love passionflower vines. The museum grows all the passionflowers the caterpillars eat. They created a secret garden maze with one of the largest collections of passionflowers in the world. Here are just two of the prettiest flowers we saw.

Our next stop was in the tropical bird aviary. There were signs everywhere to watch your step. We soon realized why. Tiny tropical quails were scurrying back and forth across the walkway.

We were soon buzzed by several parakeets. Did you know there are over 115 different species of seed-eating parrots of small size, slender build and long tapering tail? Like this little one:

Parakeets form strong monogamous pairs and will typically mate for life. Their partners can be of the same or a different sex. Here are some "love birds" setting up housekeeping.

Here are some more love birds:

To get to Macaw Landing and the Jewels of the Sky Aviary, we crossed a replica of the Tinalandia Bridge. The bridge is a replica of one spanning the Toachi river, near the Tinalandia Lodge in Western Ecuador. While our family has visited Ecuador, we've never been to this bridge. However, our daughter may have driven past it on her Ecuador road trip.

Since 1986, Butterfly world founder, Ron Boender, has been traveling to the Tinalandia site to study rain forest butterflies. The replica bridge is his effort to bring a bit of the adventure he experienced there, to Butterfly World. The bridge bounces and sways as your walk across it.

At the other end of the bridge are the resident macaws. These beautiful birds were rescued from an unhealthy situation. While they can never be free, at least they can live out their lives being well cared for and entertained by all the silly tourists who come by asking if "Polly wants a cracker!"

In the Jewels of the Sky Aviary, we met some of the most colorful birds in the tropics. Who can resist a canary yellow colored canary!

The prize for most colorful was the Lady Gouldian Finch. The small, multi-colored birds are covered in green, yellow, blue, purple, red, and black. They are endemic to Australia, preferring tropical savanna woodland habitats in the northern part of the country. 

After seeing all the birds, it was time to get our hands on some. The Lorikeet Encounter is a hands-on experience. Lorikeets are medium-sized parrots and unlike the parakeet who eat seeds, lories feed on pollen, nectar and bugs. If you buy a cup of nectar from the docent, you are immediately best friends with the lorikeets in the enclosure.

While Richard and Kathy proceeded to the gift shop, Ron and Brian decided to become members. We have a feeling there will be more butterflies and passonflowers in our future.

After a morning filled with butterflies, flower buds and bird bonding, it was time to get serious about lunch. The boys took us to one of the favorite restaurants - Rosie's in Wilton Manor. Rosie's is a fun, festive and all inclusive place. You can't be sad at Rosie's. The folks there are fabulous! Here is a link to their menu. What's not to love about a big bowl of Kaling Me Softly or Beet Your Brains Out!

Thanks guys for a great adventure. See ya down the road.

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