Florida’s natural wonders range from stunning coral reefs to lush forests and crystal clear springs, but some of them are a little harder to find than others. If you find yourself traveling through Key West, you'll probably take advantage of the stunning beaches and waves, but there’s another treasure hiding in Florida’s southernmost point. The endangered Miami blue butterfly can only be found on this remote Florida island, and if you’re lucky, you might just catch a glimpse!

The Miami blue butterfly, as the Florida Museum tells it, was once a common sight across the Sunshine State. Now endangered, the species has been reduced to isolated populations in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge.

The Miami blues live a fragile existence, vulnerable to hurricanes, predators, and climate change that could wipe out their delicate population.

At the University of Miami, researchers have been raising and studying a laboratory-maintained colony of several thousand of these blue babies. In raising so many, the research staff had to find a more efficient way of feeding the butterflies than having and maintaining tons of flowers.

So, they introduced Gatorade into their diets as an easy source of energy and nutrients for them. Funnily enough, the butterflies even have a favorite flavor.

According to the director of the Florida Museum's McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, Jaret Daniels, the butterflies favor Fierce Melon above all other Gatorade flavors.

The Key West National Wildlife Refuge where you can see these butterflies is only accessible by boat, and you can find out more information on tours to the island with refuge volunteers by stopping by the Visitor Center on Big Pine Key.

This untouched refuge is the last home of the wild and endangered Miami blue butterfly, and you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one if you visit!

Key West National Wildlife Refuge

Address: Start at the Visitor Center on Big Pine Key 179 Key Deer Blvd., Big Pine Key, FL

Why You Need To Go: This remote Florida park is the last home for endangered Miami blue butterflies!



We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment and obey any local laws.


 

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