Thursday, September 1, 2022

Sugden Regional Park August 31, 2022

 Sugden Regional Park 

I just had to share, what for me is, an exciting milestone. At Sugden Butterfly Garden we planted a Wild Lime Tree over a year ago in the hopes of attracting Giant Swallowtails. Almost every time any of us are at the garden we check this tree looking for activity…2 weeks ago we were rewarded with caterpillars and eggs. Yesterday after much searching I found chrysalis. I doubt we can time seeing the butterfly emerge - so the butterfly picture is a stock photo.


And here is a cool video of a butterfly playground…because of all the rain this low spot has not been mowed and it is now a beautiful spot to enjoy butterflies. There had to be at least 20+ flyers.


Content Shared by Connie Nagele,
 Lead for Collier County Parks and Recreation's Volunteer Garden Program. 

Saturday, July 30, 2022

April 2022 Earth Day in the Gardens


Collier County Parks & Recreation

Volunteer Newsletter – April 2022

Celebrate Earth Day in the Gardens on Saturday, April 23rd

By: Andee Naccarato, CCPR Volunteer & Interim President of Naples Native Plants


             Collier County’s Garden Volunteers may celebrate the Earth every day, but we’re extra excited to invite you to our pollinator gardens for fun and educational activities on Saturday, April 23rd! Drop by Conner Park, North Collier Regional Park, or Sugden Regional Park between 9:00am and 12:00pm to take part in this free event honoring plants, pollinators, and the planet that sustains us.

            Free activities to be enjoyed by visitors of all ages include scavenger hunts in the gardens and self-guided butterfly walks around the Parks. Volunteers from Naples Native Plants and Collier County’s Garden Program will be there to chat about gardening tips to attract pollinators. Naples Native Plants will also be selling plants for pollinators (while supplies last) at each of the three Parks so you can start providing for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators at home!

Our planet Earth is there for us every day of our lives. Be sure to celebrate the Earth this month and participate in events that benefit our environment. Learning about the relationships between native plants and pollinators is a perfect way to get in tune with the life-sustaining services of nature. We encourage you to bring your friends and family to one of your favorite parks on the morning of Saturday, April 23rd to connect with plants, pollinators, and each other!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

August 2022 Results of Summer Butterfly Counts


Collier County Parks & Recreation

Volunteer Newsletter – August 2022

Results of 2022 Summer Butterfly Counts

By Andee Naccarato, CCPR Volunteer & Interim President of Naples Native Plants


Ceraunus Blue NCRP
In honor of Pollinator Week, 20 volunteers for Collier County Parks & Recreation (CCPR) participated in the 2nd annual summer butterfly counts on Saturday, June 25th at three Parks: Conner Park, North Collier Regional Park, and Sugden Regional Park. These parks were selected for butterfly counts because they include native plants in their butterfly gardens, general landscaping, and natural areas. Native plants are very important to the survival of southwest Florida’s butterflies because they provide food and/or shelter for all four butterfly stages (egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and adult).

How many butterflies were counted this year? Read on for the results from each Park!


Conner Park  is located in northwest Naples in the Vanderbilt Beach area, about half a mile from the Gulf of Mexico. As with the other two Parks, volunteers counted numbers of individual butterflies of different species while walking a circular route through the Park’s butterfly garden and natural areas. At Conner Park, 157 individual butterflies of 7 species were identified. The top three species seen were Statira Sulphur, Barred Yellow, and Zebra Heliconian (Florida’s state butterfly). Two new species for Conner Park (Giant Swallowtail and White Checkered-Skipper) were recorded this year, bringing the overall park total to 15 species. Certain species of butterflies that rely on native plants in mangrove habitats, such as the Statira Sulphur, Mangrove Buckeye, and Mangrove Skipper, are most likely to be seen at Conner Park and less likely to be seen as distance from the coast increases.


North Collier Regional Park  is Located about four miles inland from Conner Park, North Collier Regional Park is a large multi-use park with preserved habitats of pine flatwoods and cypress wetlands. This year, 73 butterflies of 14 species were counted. The top five species observed (with a three-way tie for 3rd place) were White Peacock, White Checkered-Skipper, Cloudless Sulphur, Cassius Blue, and Barred Yellow. Two new species, the Soldier (a relative of the Monarch and Queen) and Tropical Checkered-Skipper, were recorded this year. The Park’s overall total is now 23 species. When considering numbers of individual butterflies seen in the butterfly gardens specifically, North Collier Regional Park came out on top for this count (18 individuals of 7 species).


Sugden Regional Park  is the southernmost of the three parks, located about 1.5 miles from Naples Bay on Lake Avalon. For this summer’s count, 127 individuals of 15 species were counted. The top three species were White Peacock, Dainty Sulphur, and Zebra Heliconian. Three new species for Sugden Regional Park were recorded (Eastern Black Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail, and Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak), bringing this park’s overall total to 24 species. Although the majority of this park is the open water of Lake Avalon, a mix of native plants along habitat edges and in the butterfly garden support an impressive diversity of butterfly species.




A variety of environmental factors influence butterfly abundance and diversity, so it’s difficult to determine why butterfly numbers may change from year to year, from season to season, or from location to location on a single day. We do know that butterflies rely on the presence of native plants in natural areas, gardens, and landscaping so they can create more butterflies for the future. It is important to continue conducting butterfly counts in the long-term to paint a clearer picture of butterfly population trends in Collier County.

Are you interested in participating in the next butterfly count or tending one of the butterfly gardens? Contact Connie Nagele (Lead Garden Volunteer) at for more information.

Special thanks to all the volunteers (and CCPR Volunteer Coordinator Debi Siciliano) who dedicated their time to counting butterflies on a hot June day: Dena & Scott Berglund, Linda Blaise, Dante Cirilli, Christy Duff, Sara Dust, Cherie Glenn, Rhonda Gloodt, Juliet Gross, Susan LaGrotta, Abbie & Susan LeFebvre, Michele Lenhard, Maureen McFarland, Andee Naccarato, Connie Nagele, Debbie Polen, Jane Poole, Hannah Scech, and Jane Smith.

Check out our photo gallery from the Summer Butterfly Count in June 2022 and beyond.  A special thank you to our master photographers, Scott B., Christy D., Maureen M. and everyone to contributed photos from the counts for late identification. 

July 2022 Gardening with "Weedy" Native Plants


Collier County Parks & Recreation

Volunteer Newsletter July 2022


Gardening with “Weedy” Native Plants

By Andee Naccarato, Interim President of Naples Native Plants


Bidens Alba

Devoted gardeners become intimately familiar with the plants under their care. They walk through their gardens almost daily, observing how the plants grow and change. They watch the plants as they unfurl new leaves, develop flower buds, and bloom in beautiful colors. These repeated meanderings through gardens help gardeners often instantly recognize when a new (and possibly unknown) seedling appears.

Unknown plants popping up in gardens are usually classified as “weeds” and quickly pulled out. However, some of these unknown plants introducing themselves to garden spaces happen to be native to Florida. These native plant species have existed in Florida since before European colonization and provide important resources to our native wildlife.

Why would a native plant be confused with a weed? Florida is a land of dramatic natural disturbances (like hurricanes and lightning-induced fires). Some native plants act as “pioneers” by being the first to germinate and inhabit disturbed areas. Even relatively small disturbances, like turning over the soil in our gardens or digging out an old shrub, invite those native pioneer species to appear.

Bidens Alba Seeds
One example of a pioneer or “weedy” native is the wildflower known as beggarticks (Bidens alba), often called Spanish needles in southwest Florida. (Note: Although called “Spanish” needles, this wildflower is a Florida native.) This daisy-like flower is a member of  the sunflower family (Asteraceae). The common name refers to the needle-like seeds the plant produces to start its next generation. Many gardeners are not too fond of Spanish needles because of its tendency   to spread widely and how easily the pointy seeds stick to gloves, shirt sleeves, and shoelaces.

Is there any reason to keep Spanish needles on your property? Yes! This native wildflower is one of the most popular nectar plants for pollinators, including butterflies and bees. For butterflies, at least 27 species have been observed drinking nectar from Spanish needles in southwest Florida.

Furthermore, Spanish needles is the host plant for a small yellow butterfly known as the dainty sulphur. While the dainty sulphur could visit a variety of flowers to sip nectar, females specifically seek out Spanish needles when they are ready to lay eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the caterpillars eat the leaves of Spanish needles before transforming into butterflies.

Is it possible to provide Spanish needles for pollinators and keep a tidy garden? Yes, it is possible with frequent attention to the Spanish needles. Designate a certain spot in your garden (or a less visible corner of your backyard) where Spanish needles can persist. As a fast-grower, this wildflower responds well to pruning (or even mowing). Remove spent flower heads before the needle-like seeds appear to prevent Spanish needles from spreading. This wildflower blooms year-round, so be sure to observe your Spanish needles at least weekly for the appearance of seeds.

Although Spanish needles (and other “weedy” natives) may not meet every gardener’s expectations for a lovely garden specimen, more and more gardeners are embracing their roles as environmental stewards. Gardeners who include native plants, even the pioneer species, in their gardens are providing food and resources to pollinators and other native wildlife. Thankfully, with the right approach, the actions of every gardener can help restore the natural environment in our communities.


March 2022 - Gardening for Insects & Ourselves


Collier County Parks & Recreation

Volunteer Newsletter – March 2022

Thinking Ahead: Gardening for Insects and Ourselves

By: Andee Naccarato, CCPR Volunteer & Interim President of Naples Native Plants


             White Peacocks, Dainty Sulphurs, and Zebra Longwings – these are just three of the 30+ kinds of butterflies that have been recorded in Collier County’s Parks during recent butterfly counts. Why is this information good to know? Seeing butterflies (and other native insects) in a multi-use outdoor space means that people are taking good care of the land so all beings can thrive.

The abundance or diversity of native insects, like a variety of butterflies, can be an indicator of environmental health. In other words, environments supporting lots of insects tend to be in better shape than environments where few insects are seen. Think about your own front yard or community garden: how often do you see butterflies or other insects there? When we add butterfly gardens or other native landscaping to our yards or parks, we can help improve the natural quality of the surrounding environment, for insects and ourselves.

Would you like to create or modify your own garden to attract more beneficial insects, like pollinators? Three excellent examples of butterfly gardens can be viewed at Conner Park, North Collier Regional Park, and Sugden Regional Park. In these volunteer-maintained gardens, the variety of butterfly plants are well-labeled so you can learn more about those plants that catch your eye. For an extra special garden event, save the date for Earth Day 2022!

Save the date: Join us for Earth Day in the Garden on Saturday, April 23rd at Conner Park, North Collier Regional Park, and Sugden Regional Park. Bring the family to the butterfly gardens to learn about pollinators and the plants that sustain them. A representative from Naples Native Plants, our local chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, will be there to chat with you about the relationships between native plants and pollinators.

Fall Butterfly Counts 2021


Collier County Parks & Recreation

Volunteer Newsletter – January 2022


Results of Fall Butterfly Counts in Three Collier County Parks

By: Andee Naccarato, CCPR Volunteer & Interim President of Naples Native Plants


Butterfly counts for the fall season were conducted in Collier County’s Parks last November. In total, 21 participants counted 180 butterflies representing at least 18 species! The butterfly counts were conducted at three Collier County Parks, including Conner Park (42 butterflies, 9 species), Sugden Regional Park (59 butterflies, 13 species), and North Collier Regional Park (67 butterflies, 12 species).

For approximately three hours, participants counted butterflies present in the Parks’ butterfly gardens and walked predetermined routes through additional Park areas, including forested areas, pond edges, and open lawn spaces. Volunteers recorded if certain types of butterflies were observed in the butterfly gardens or in other natural park areas.

Interestingly, every Park added at least one new butterfly species that was not observed during the summer count last June. At Conner Park, which is bordered by coastal estuary habitat including mangroves, participants observed both the Mangrove Buckeye and the Mangrove Skipper. Butterfly counters at Sugden Regional Park noticed Common Buckeyes between the nature trail and Lake Avalon. Dorantes Longtail Skippers were recorded for the first time at both Sugden and North Collier Regional Parks.

Although overall butterfly abundance and species diversity was lower compared to the summer counts, this trend was expected based on seasonal changes in weather. In general, fewer butterflies are observed during the cooler, dry season. As “cold-blooded” insects, butterflies require warm ambient temperatures to maintain active flight. This means few butterflies are seen on cool days. Additionally, a lack of rainfall tends to reduce new growth on butterfly host plants. With fewer egg-laying sites, food for caterpillars, and flowers in bloom, the butterfly’s life cycle may slow down or pause in earlier life stages (egg, caterpillar, or chrysalis) and reduce chances of seeing adult butterflies.

These butterfly counts were made possible by dedicated Garden Program Volunteers along with additional participants representing Calusa Garden Club, Collier County Master Gardeners, Collier County Parks & Recreation, Cypress Cove Landkeepers, and the Naples Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society.

Thank you to Debi Siciliano (Volunteer Coordinator) and the following individuals for your optimistic efforts in completing these counts, despite less than perfect weather conditions: Dena & Scott Berglund, Dante Cirilli, Christy Duff, Lisa Forman, Cherie Glen, Melissa Hennig, Daphne Jameson, Susan LaGrotta, Leslie Landert, Twyla Leigh, Bonnie Lervik, Maureen McFarland, Tara McGraw, Andee Naccarato, Connie Nagele, Debbie Polen, Jane Smith, and Sally & Kirby Stein.

Data gathered from this citizen science project is being shared with butterfly conservation organizations, such as eButterfly and the North American Butterfly Association. Comparisons of butterfly abundance and diversity in fall, spring, and summer will be a unique addition to knowledge of butterfly natural history in southwest Florida. More butterfly counts are being planned for Spring 2022. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Connie Nagele (Lead Volunteer) at

Sugden Regional Park August 31, 2022

 Sugden Regional Park  I just had to share, what for me is, an exciting milestone. At Sugden Butterfly Garden we planted a Wild Lime Tree ov...

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