Join in some scientific fun for a butterfly census at Brooksville's Chinsegut Conservation Center next Friday.
The Florida Butterfly Monitoring Network uses the data from the butterfly census to assess the butterfly distribution and population trends so that appropriate conservation strategies are developed.
Species such as butterflies are an excellent indicator of the health of our local ecosystems. Butterflies can provide an early warning to environmental problems since they are short-lived and react to habitat loss, invasive species, and pollution.
Over 180 different types of butterflies have been previously recorded in the state of Florida. And more than 40 species are unique to Florida or occur mostly with the boundaries of the state.
Some common Florida butterfly species include swallowtails, whites and sulphurs, metalmarks, gossamer-winged butterflies, brush-footed butterflies and skippers.
Swallowtails are known to be large-sized butterflies, whereas whites and sulphurs are as their name implies, having usually white or shades of yellow colored wings. Gossamer-winged butterflies often have bright blue ventral wings. Brush-footed butterflies often have eyespots and bands or other wing markings. Skippers are small- to medium-sized butterflies that are generally brown or orange with antennae that have distinct hooks at their tips.
Pamela Murfey, coordinator of the Chinsegut Conservation Center, said that the butterfly census will be performed on four designated trails within the Chinsegut Conservation Center for a total of roughly two miles of trails.
"First-time census participants do not need anything," she said. "We provide binoculars and butterfly images."
Bev Hansen, a lead volunteer at the conservation center, will provide instructions on using binoculars, how to identify butterfly species and what butterfly species to be on the lookout for, and how to fill out the butterfly census form.
Be sure to bring bottled water, sunscreen, bug repellent, sunglasses, a hat and closed-toe walking shoes. You may bring your own binoculars if desired.
The butterfly census takes place 9-11 a.m. Sept. 27 at Chinsegut Conservation Center, 23212 Lake Lindsey Road, Brooksville.
Another butterfly census will take place on Oct. 25.
For details, contact the Chinsegut Conservation Center at (352) 754-6722 or visit http:// outreach.myfwc.com/events/event_details.asp? id=288417 and www.fl butterflies.net.
Hernando Today correspondent Heather Francis can be reached at email@example.com.