I had never seen a zebra butterfly in Sarasota until today. Despite the fact that it’s Florida’s state butterfly, I’ve only seen one in 17-years of living here. It was at Maclay Gardens in Tallahassee and was only around long enough for one quick picture.
Tonight, walking through Red Bug Slough with John and Luke, we saw
a gaggle, a swarm, a herd ??? of zebra butterflies. It was a more amazing sight than any butterfly garden has ever delivered me. There actually is a designated butterfly garden near the entrance of the park, but I’ve never seen anything like this there.
That spot is man-made. It’s a garden next to a parking lot and jungle gym, but that’s not to make it sound sub-par. It’s a beautiful park, one of many in Sarasota County. It’s simply the section where nature had to be cleared to accommodate the park. The butterflies were in a section where nature had to be kept to accommodate the park. It’s one of two shaded areas and has walking trails throughout an otherwise undisturbed Florida forest. Houses run along the back of the woods and condominiums along the other two sides, yet somehow nature prevails regardless of the small space.
As we walked along one of the paths, we spotted about a dozen zebras butterflies twirling around in a patch of sun. I’ve had a few other odd and awesome animal run-ins in my suburban life–a hummingbird looked me in the eyes in Balboa park without pecking them out and my brother and I rode our bikes parallel to a stunned deer for about five strides through Lakewood Ranch–and now the zebra butterflies in Red Bug Slough are adding to that list.
It was as if we stumbled onto a butterfly birthday party. They were drunk from the sunlight and spinning in circles. We were under a hammock, so the sun’s rays were compacted into one bright spotlight piercing through the trees. It was a totally unexpected and welcome moment. There were butterflies settled on the ground and hanging from the trees, but mostly they were playing in the sun flitting in and out of the spotlight. I tried to get a video, but it wasn’t capturing the moment; and I didn’t want to miss it myself by fooling with a camera, so I settled for a few still shots.