garden in Mead Botanical Garden with Dutchman’s Pipe on an arbor

There is a little secret I can share about Mead Botanical Gardens in Winter Park, Florida. This 47.6 acre park is an oasis in the midst of a city and is home to lots and lot of butterflies. The real secret, though, is that if you lift up a Dutchman’s pipevine plant leaf you are likely to see LOTS of polydamas caterpillars congregating together.

polydamas caterpillars photo courtesy of Donald W. Hall, University of Florida

These polydamas swallowtail butterflies lay lots of unfertilized eggs in clusters, as Darwin’s survival of the fittest takes over. Even though these caterpillars can be cannibalistic, they stay together in groups while they grow for some reason. It defies logic to me, as I would want to get as far away from the other caterpillars if I were in close proximity to other cannibalistic caterpillars. However, maybe they do this because there is strength in numbers, and any one caterpillar is less likely to meet its demise from a predator if they group together..

polydamas butterfly photo courtesy of Donald W. Hall, University of Florida

There are many trails at Mead that provide a brief respite from the world, a certain intermission from the pandemic.

I have so many happy memories of Mead Botanic Garden from this past spring while we socially isolated from others and I first discovered this wonderland. The place is wide open and beautiful, and one can stay away from others if one sees fit. If one is lonely during the pandemic, there are multiple picnic tables that have a sign that invites folks to chat.

photo courtesy of

The park is open daily generally from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. There is so much to explore here, and all free of charge.

If you are looking for something to do on “date night”, Mead Botanical Garden is a great venue for the company “Our Dream Date” from Orlando that offers “date night” packages there with a picnic. This is perfect for a special birthday, proposal, anniversary, or special date.

Life is good; find a way to capture some magic today or defy logic, especially at Mead Garden if you are in Florida.

Carpe diem, friends…………………….

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