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Want To Help Save Endangered Butterflies? Pass That Beer!

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Bartram's scrub-hairstreak butterfly lives only in pine rocklands habitat in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Working to protect a rare, endangered butterfly usually involves work in the field or the lab, or sometimes meetings and conference calls.

Now helping out the Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak butterfly can mean drinking a beer — or at least buying one.

Bartram’s Blonde Beer debuts on Friday, the fifth special brew in a butterfly-themed partnership between Gainesville’s First Magnitude Brewing Company and the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida.

“It’s a light blonde ale with a crisp, really clean finish and some nice tropical aromas and white wine fruitiness to it,” said Simon McClung, marketing coordinator at the brewery.

The partnership was the idea of Jaret Daniels, program director at the natural history museum’s McGuire Center for Lepitoptera and Biodiversity.

“Not everybody is going to come to South Florida, and not everybody is going to come to, say, the Florida Museum of Natural History,” he said.

The museum distributes educational information at the debut event for the special brew. Each can also carries an image and information about the butterfly, with links to get more.

Florida is home to almost 200 species of butterfly, many of them endangered, Daniels said.

“Especially in South Florida, there is a lot of really unique species that are found nowhere else in the world that we don’t want to be lost,” he said.

Bartram’s scrub hairstreak caterpillars only eat pineland croton, a plant that grows in the rocklands. Maintaining pine rocklands requires occasional fires, one reason the National Key Deer Refuge regularly holds controlled burns on its property on Big Pine Key.

The butterflies were added to the Endangered Species List in 2014.

Working with the museum on the conservation was a natural fit for the brewery, McClung said — First Magnitude takes its name from the term used to describe the volume of water produced in the natural springs in north central Florida.

“Springs conservation and environmental conservation in general is central to who we are,” he said.

The brewery does not have a South Florida distributor so you can’t buy Bartram’s Blonde Beer in or near the habitat of the Bartram’s hairstreak. But it is available at the Nomad Lounge and Tiffins restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.

Nancy Klingener was WLRN's Florida Keys reporter until July 2022.
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