NSRWA Director of Marketing and Communications, Lori Wolfe, is not only a champion of the rivers, she is also passionate about Monarch butterflies. For about 20 years, since her kids were in elementary school, she has been raising Monarchs. It all started with one chrysalis back in Indiana.
“We went to our grandparent’s farm in the fall and while walking through a field we spotted a green chrysalis hanging from a corn stalk. Since it was already cold outside we figured the chrysalis hadn’t survived so we broke off the corn stalk and took it home and placed it in a vase. Much to our surprise, when we woke up the next morning, the chrysalis had warmed up and hatched. The butterfly, who my daughter named Flossie had a bent wing and wouldn’t have survived in the wild. She became our family pet, sitting on my finger drinking sugar water out of my fingernail. Thus an obsession was born. We studied all about Monarchs, planted milkweed and nectar plants, and started raising and releasing them. I took them to schools, churches and garden clubs and had lots of neighborhood kids helping to raise them as well.”
After moving to Massachusetts 7 years ago, she started planting a butterfly garden with milkweed and nectar plants. Milkweed is essential since it is the only plant Monarch caterpillars can eat. This year her hard work finally paid off. She has 150 chrysalides and 50+ caterpillars… and counting! “I’m shooting for 200,” says Wolfe.
The raising and release of Monarchs is a perfect tie in with the conservation messages of the NSRWA and the WaterSmart program. The plight of the Monarchs is tied to the depletion of their food source which is milkweed. Through the destruction of our wild places like meadows, and the use of herbicides and pesticides, we have vastly decreased the areas butterflies need to survive and thrive. The preservation and use of native plants not only helps wildlife, but also helps conserve water as native plants require far less water than non-natives.
In the spring, at Gardening Green Expo , we plan to include a table with information on raising Monarchs and give away milkweed seeds. If you would like some milkweed seeds for your garden now, stop by the NSRWA office Monday through Friday between 9:00am and 5:00pm. We can all do small things that can make a big difference!
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