between SW 13th St and Brickell Metromover
Welcome! Keep your eyes peeled for fossils, you are surrounded by some of Miami’s oldest residents!
Here in the Oolite Room, you can spot three native butterflies– we are the Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia), Julia (Dryas julia), and Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae). We are all members of a group of butterflies called the Heliconias, so the three of us are like cousins. We look similar in size and shape, but we have a few ways you can tell the difference between us. Julias have beautiful orange wings and look almost like leaves. Gulf Fritillaries are also orange but have a block chain pattern along the edges of their wings. They also have pretty white spots you can see when our wings are closed and black spots on their upper wing areas.
Zebra longwing butterflies are the easiest to find. Can you guess which animal they look like? That’s right, a zebra! These butterflies are covered in stripes, but instead of black and white, they have black and yellow stripes. And guess what? Our caterpillars look like little aliens with spiky white or orange bodies and black spots. Take a look around and see if you can find us munching away on leaves. And then look up and see if you can spot us as butterflies. We fly a bit slower than other butterflies so it is easy to see us gently gliding by. But be careful to look at us with your eyes only! Catching us with your hands hurts our delicate wings.
We Heliconians all love the Oolite room because it has our two favorite foods– Corkystem passion vines (Passiflora suberosa) and firebush flowers (Hamelia patens)! Firebush has delicious nectar that is a favorite for butterflies, bees, and even hummingbirds. It also has lots of pollen, which we love! All butterflies drink nectar, but we Heliconians like to eat pollen as well. Nectar is mostly sugar, but pollen is full of vitamins and protein. Pollen gives us the strength to live a long life. Did you know, most butterflies only live for a week or two, but we live for several months!
Passion vines (Passiflora spp.) of all species are the food that our caterpillars eat the most, and where we lay our eggs. Passion leaves might be lunch for caterpillars, but they don’t taste good to humans and other animals. Instead, humans love passion vines for their beautiful flowers and their delicious fruit. Purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) has a round yellow fruit that is super tasty. You may know it as Maracuya, grenadya or passion fruit. It is used to make a juice that is sweet and sour and bien rico, it is sooooo yummy! Plant these at home and you can have delicious fruit and give home to three different beautiful butterflies!
Fun Fact: We have slumber parties!
Zebra Longwings like to sleep in big groups at night. We may spend the day flying around by ourselves, but when it starts to get dark we like to stay close to each other. Each evening many of us will meet at the same place, sometimes all on the same branch. There can be 5, 10 or even 100 of us all sleeping together, like a big sleepover party. Doesn’t that sound fun?! Who is bringing the popcorn?
What is Oolite?
Miami limestone, formerly called Miami oolite, consists of the coastal ridge of southeastern Florida, from Palm Beach to Broward to Miami-Dade to the Everglades to Big Pine Key and Marquesas Keys. Oolite is one of the most common sedimentary rock, formed from ooids, which are spherical grains composed of concentric layers. Sedimentary rocks form over time on the surface of the Earth through the process of erosion, precipitation, and natural weathering.
Oolite actually dates back to the Sangamon Interglacial Stage, between 125,000 and 75,000 years ago. The Sangamon Interglacial Stage was a period of time in between glacial periods and left behind deposits of what would become Miami limestone. About 75,000 years ago, the Wisconsin Glacial Stage began. It was the last time that glaciers were on top of North America. Decreasing sea levels during the Wisconsin Glacial Stage left Miami limestone exposed, where we see it today.
Oolite also contains fossils of corals, sea urchins, and mollusks. Most oolite is formed of calcium carbonate (calcite or aragonite) but can be composed of phosphate, clays, chert, dolomite or iron minerals.
The mechanism of formation starts with a small fragment of sediment acting as a seed. Strong currents wash the seeds where they accumulate layers of calcite from the water. The Atlantic Coastal Ridge of southeastern Florida, the islands of the Lower Florida Keys, and much of the Everglades, are underlain by Miami Oolite.
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