Wildlife Wednesday: Scientists Needed to Help Butterflies; No Lab Coat Required!

Dr. Mark Penning

by , Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks

If you are planning to attend this year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, be sure to visit our Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment cast members to take part in a unique opportunity to conduct some important citizen-science research. You can assist our conservation team in helping increase local populations of butterflies – and it takes only a couple of minutes!

Last year, Epcot guests observed a butterfly garden at the festival and recorded which plants attracted the most butterflies. Because of this research, we identified two native plant species – blanket flowers and chapman’s cassia – as butterfly favorites! We shared that data with the Disney Horticulture team members, and they are planting more of these flowers to attract butterflies around the Walt Disney World Resort. This year, we are testing a new suite of plants at the Flower & Garden Festival, and we need your help to determine which ones our native butterflies like best! This is a fantastic activity for guests of all ages, and families can participate together.

Wildlife Wednesday: Scientists Needed to Help Butterflies; No Lab Coat Required!

In an earlier Wildlife Wednesday post, we told you about our efforts to reverse the decline of Atala butterflies. Guests at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort have helped us release more than 330 of these butterflies bred at Walt Disney World Resort. We even worked with residential communities in Vero Beach to ensure there are plenty of the Atalas’ favorite plants to eat and lay their eggs on. I’m thrilled to report that the butterflies have laid eggs of their own and established new populations that have spread miles north and south of Vero Beach, and this after being on the brink of extinction!

You can learn much more about Disney’s conservation work to help save butterflies and what you can do in your own backyard to support these pollinators. Our ASE team will join butterfly biologists from University of Florida to host presentations at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., March 31-April 2. And be sure to visit the butterfly gardens to help us research our butterflies’ favorite plants!


  • Gardening for butterflies is my passion. I can’t wait to see this!!

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