Back to Nature (Published on - July 26, 2006)
It’s worth the wait
Photo by Rick Tremmel
The patterned white peacock butterfly rests with open wings upon a flower at Walsingham Park.
It’s midsummer in the USA. Back to school aisles are bursting at the seams with bright colored notebooks, stacks of lined paper and assorted pens and pencils. Uniforms are on sale at the malls along with those enticing racks of children’s clothing 75 percent off. News anchors report that bags of ice are selling at a premium; shelves are emptied of newly boxed air conditioners and consumers are traveling miles just to buy a fan.

These are all signs of mid-summer and summer vacation about to end. Families all over North America are cramming in every last minute of fun before the kids are back in school, as triple-digit temperatures rise across the nation.

While most of the nation is scurrying about packing last minute picnic baskets, slugging through sensational temperatures with umbrellas and coolers, fishing rods and golf clubs, Floridians simply sit back and wait.

Floridians are more preoccupied with stowing away batteries, picking up an extra sheet or two of plywood, buying bottles of water, cans of beans and tuna, matches, tarps and beaucoup rolls of duct tape.

Our northern neighbors wait for summer to arrive while Floridians wait for summer to be over. We’ve learned that if we can make it past Halloween, the roof remains on our house, we’re able to turn on clean water “from a tap,” local trees are standing upright and the family dog is resting safely, then we’ve pretty much got it made until next June. We can picnic, swim, golf, fish, boat, eat ice cream, take walks in the park, go birding, butterfly watching, camp, or simply spend a day at the beach or by the pool for the next seven months.

So with hurricane tracking maps in hand … we wait.

While waiting we might get a crazy notion to venture out in the wee hours of the morning to take a peek at the sun before it becomes venomous. We may perhaps throw caution to the wind to walk upon a nature trail after dusk or horrors of horrors … take in a mid-summer sunset while swatting West Nile virus infected mosquitoes, but for the most part Floridians leave their air conditioned homes to get into air conditioned cars to go to air conditioned buildings or malls where we sit in air conditioned offices, restaurants and stores and wait it out.

Assuming we have a house still standing come November, we brush the dust off and get down to having some real fun, Floridian style. It’s worth the wait. Once the worst has passed, there are many activities available to Floridians: football of course, sailing, fishing, scuba diving and wildlife watching, to name a few.

A rapidly growing, popular hobby is butterfly watching. Many species of butterflies are attracted to our generally mild climate and Florida’s abundance of wild flowers year-round.

Back to Nature would like to take the next couple of columns to introduce you to a few common butterfly species of Florida.

The white peacock butterfly – (Anartia jatrophae) prefers moist environments such as swamps, bogs and shorelines. The White Peacock Butterfly in our photo was discovered at Walsingham Park in Seminole. These butterflies are very shy and difficult to observe for any length of time. Their host plants are ruellia and water hyssop. Because the white peacock butterfly is not a strong flyer it’s rarely seen outside of its southern strongholds.

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