Tampa Bay Butterfly Whisperer Encourages Others to Really Appreciate Nature
“Save the bees!” a phrase that you see or hear almost everywhere you go – local markets, in website advertisements, garden clubs and more. Most people contribute to the cause by making donations, supporting local bee farms, adopting hives and more! But there is another group in the pollinator family that needs some love too – butterflies.
One local woman has taken it upon herself for the past 2 years to do what she can to spread awareness and help preserve butterfly populations! Anita Camacho is a CPA by trade, but her love of nature and gardening has turned her into the butterfly whisperer! She opened Little Red Wagon Native Nursery in south Tampa to show people how to care for various types of plants and attract various species of pollinators. She is even creating a butterfly conservatory set to open later this year.
Camacho teaches and spreads awareness about the beautiful butterfly in the hopes people will adopt certain habits to attract the winged wonder to their yards or porches. She says all it really takes is some milk weed and a nectar plant, it’s that easy. One of her main educational points is the importance of native plants. Her nursery is actually the only native plant nursery in Hillsborough County.
Camacho’s dream came about after her mom got sick from years of gardening and pesticide use. She decided no more chemicals. She then focused on studying gardening and doing it chemical free. She’s also traveled the world studying butterflies. The knowledge she has gained in these areas has helped her share her passion with others.
Just a few weeks back, the Monarch Butterfly was put on the endangered species list. It was a long time coming as the numbers have been dwindling. As President and Founder of Tampa Bay Butterfly Foundation and the Tampa Bay Chapter of North American Butterfly Association, Camacho takes great pride in raising awareness and doing what she can to educate others on ways to care for butterflies like the Monarch. She says, “We really need to change our landscapes to increase habitat for wildlife and eliminate pesticide and herbicide use. This [The Monarch Butterfly] is an indicator species to the health of our ecosystems. We either heed the warnings or we are right behind them.” She reminds people that pollinators are also critical to our food supply.
According to The Student Conservation Association, “Butterﬂies are not only fun to watch but they serve a critical purpose as well. Butterﬂies and other pollinators including bees, moths, birds, and bats pollinate over 75% of the world’s ﬂowering plants…We depend on what these pollinators do to help plants reproduce which helps strengthen ecosystems and maintain life sustaining biological diversity in nature.”
Camacho often holds educational classes and speaks to garden groups around Florida and the nation to raise awareness of the plight of the environment with native plants and insects. She also planted 2 special gardens during NFL Green Week in February 2021 before the Super Bowl was held in Tampa.
In her mind, everyday is national garden day when mother nature is top of mind and the butterflies flutter about for all to enjoy.
Her Little Red Wagon Native Nursery is located at 4113 Henderson Blvd, Tampa, FL 33629. The website is ButterflyTampa.com.