#30: Dr. Jaret Daniels – Butterflies, Creating Habitat in Overlooked Landscapes, and Leveraging Creative Outreach

#30: Dr. Jaret Daniels – Butterflies, Creating Habitat in Overlooked Landscapes, and Leveraging Creative Outreach Nature's Archive


My guest today is Dr. Jaret Daniels. Dr. Daniels is a professor specializing in lepidoptera research and insect conservation at the University of Florida, and is curator of Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History. In addition to that, Dr. Daniels is the author of over a dozen books that help connect the general public to butterflies, insects, and gardening for wildlife. These include titles such as Backyard Bugs, Insects and Bugs for Kids, and Native Plant Gardening for Birds, Bees and Butterflies, which is a series of regionally-specific books (links below).

Dr. Jaret Daniels in the field with a Spicebush Swallowtail

In this episode we dive into Dr. Daniels ability to connect with the public, and how he “flips the switch” between academic endeavors and authoring for the general public. We discuss some of his specific books (links in the show notes). And he outlines why creativity is so important for public outreach. Along those lines, he tells us about the butterfly themed beer partnership with First Magnitude Brewing, which even used yeast from a butterfly!

Dr. Daniels also discusses some of his conservation activities and successes, including helping to restore the federally listed Schaus’ Swallowtail, which only lives in tropical hardwood hammock habitats in southeast Florida. This restoration also involved important efforts from community science (or citizen science) doing hard work monitoring populations in very challenging environments. This butterfly occupies a limited geographic range, meaning it is vulnerable to both habitat loss and storms such as hurricanes. Dr. Daniels discusses the recovery plan and how they intend to make Schaus’ Swallowtail populations more resilient.

As you know, I love to highlight ways we can make non-traditional spaces more wildlife friendly, and this is a specialty of Dr. Daniels. We hear about how Dr. Daniels worked with the Florida Department of Transportation to demonstrate that reduced mowing frequency along roadsides was a win-win-win for drivers, the department, and insects.

And to support homeowners looking to make better plant choices, Dr. Daniels is collaborating to create a wildlife-friendly plant certification program. Additionally, Dr. Daniels reveals some surprising findings from studying attractiveness of various home landscapes in Florida. The short story: plant larger quantities of fewer “good” plants, and you’ll create a better habitat than lots of variety, but with only one specimen of each species.

You can find Dr. Daniels on twitter and at the Florida Museum of Natural History website.

This was an enlightening discussion on a number of fronts, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

While you are welcome to listen to my show using the above link, you can help me grow my reach by listening through one of the podcast services (Apple, Google, Stitcher, etc) linked on the right. And while you’re there, will you please consider subscribing?

Links To Topics Discussed

People and Organizations

The Florida Museum of Natural History

The Xerces Society

Books and Other Things

Backyard Bugs: An Identification Guide to Common Insects, Spiders, and More – by Jaret Daniels

Insects & Bugs for Kids: An Introduction to Entomology – by Jaret Daniels

Native Plant Gardening for Birds, Bees & Butterflies: A series of books covering the Upper Midwest, Southeast, South (coming soon) – by Jaret Daniels

Plasterer Bees of the Southeast – a new iNaturalist project started by the Florida Museum of Natural History looking to gather knowledge and observations about these rare bees. And here is more about the Plasterer Bee Project from the Florida Museum.

Note: links to books are affiliate links

Music Credits

Opening – Fearless First by Kevin MacLoed

Closing – Beauty Flow by Kevin MacLoed

Both can be obtained from https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/

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