St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Monarch Butterfly Festival is Back!!

Written By

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Monarch Butterfly Festival is Back!!

October 22, 2022

10 am – 4 pm

Cooler weather brings relief to humans and transport winds for migrating birds and butterflies. The large orange and black Monarch butterflies take advantage of these winds to head south to the Gulf coast and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge on their migration to Mexico. The Refuge will host its Monarch Festival on Saturday October 22 from 10 am – 4 pm to showcase this amazing migration.

Not only will visitors to the festival on Saturday will be able to able to witness the tagging of these delicate butterflies at the St. Marks Lighthouse, but they can enjoy exhibits and demonstrations, learn about landscaping for butterflies and other pollinators, plus enjoy family-friendly crafts, music, and food near the visitor center! The Nature Store will also be open 10-5.

Unlike other animal migrations, each monarch butterfly is on its own. There is no parent to follow. Its annual journey is a complex, inherited behavior pattern, not a learned process. Migrating monarchs are usually those who hatch out in late summer. Monarchs have a 4-inch wingspan and weigh 1 gram (1/5 the weight of a penny). They travel with cold fronts, often at speeds of 10 – 30 mph, covering 80 miles a day. They may fly at 3,000 feet and higher and will “fall out” on the goldenrod and saltbush, blooming along the coast and feed hungrily for their long trip.

The regular entrance fee of $5/car will be charged. We ask that you please leave your pets at home.

Mission: Create awareness and action to conserve habitat for pollinators, especially the monarch butterfly!” 

Location: Visitor Center/Natures Classroom Area 

*Information: In parking lot in front of Visitor Center. 

*Visitor Center: Nature Store, get your monarch gifts & more here! Restrooms available. 

*Apalachee Audubon –Information on the organization 

*Florida Wildlife Federation – Pollinator matching game, FWF information and more fun for the kids. 

*Friends of St Marks Wildlife Refuge – are you a Friend of our Refuge? Find out how to get involved. 

Temp. butterfly tattoos! 

*Children’s Activities and Arts and Crafts –St Marks NWR- lots of fun for all ages! 

*Florida Native Plant Society – both Sarracenia & Magnolia Chapters with native plants for sale. 

* Hot Tamale – Live Music, come dance and enjoy the music. 

*North American Butterfly Association (NABA) – Hairstreak Chapter – learn about our native butterflies. 

*People Tagging Station – are you migrating too! Be tagged and measured for your trip! 

*St Marks Grill: Bradley’s Sausage Dogs, Hot Dogs, and more! Come refuel here! 

*UF/IFAS Leon & Wakulla County Extension Learn about Florida Friendly landscaping, seeds from native 

pollinator plants. 

*USFWS Fire Program – Butterflies need prescribed fire – find out why. 

*Wakulla County Tourist Development Council- Come learn what Wakulla County has to offer. 

* *Photo Opportunity** Come take fun family photos

Location: St. Marks Lighthouse

The road will be closed just past the boat ramp and visitors will be asked to park at the boat ramp and walk to the lighthouse for everyone’s safety. Enjoy the short walk and watch the butterflies and birds! Accommodations will be made for those with handicap access.


*Monarch Tagging Station – demonstration of our monarch butterfly tagging program and release of live butterflies (if available). FWCC biologist will explain tagging project over the years. 

* Emory University “Monarch Health” – learn about monarch butterfly health and parasite research. 

For Sale!

*Wakulla High School Band food booth! Come support the band and enjoy hot dogs, hamburgers, 

cheeseburgers, drinks, and snacks.

*Butterfly gifts, t-shirts, honey, chocolate, and books for sale in Visitor Center Bookstore –open 10 am – 5 pm.

Festival Sponsors

•    Friends of St Marks Refuge

•    Magnolia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society

•    Sarracenia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society

•    Florida Wildlife Federation

Story Tags

Animal migration
Education outreach
Endangered and/or Threatened species