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Opening comments: More at the end.
Media coverage of my efforts to Rescue Monarch Butterflies & there are pictures from 2006 and 2007 for each day, so you can see how they develop, as well as the details of their life. Hope to add video soon. The facts in this story are little off.
Click here for my Monarch Butterfly Rescue web-site.
For Flowers with Wings are Butterflies
Mississauga News - July 28, 2007 - By Neil Sharma - firstname.lastname@example.org
All hail the flying Monarch
Donald Barber raises Monarch butterflies in his Port Credit backyard and when they are fully developed he releases them.
Here there are three stages visible, above on the screen are the chrysalis
and on his finger is the caterpillar and finally the colourful butterfly.
Two Mississauga residents have been doing their part to help the endangered Monarch butterfly find its way.
Christine Hucker, 52, has been leading the local charge for more than 10 years. With a conservatory system in her backyard to accommodate the Monarch, she said it's all very simple.
"We just have to allow the plants to grow," said Hucker, an animal caregiver by profession.
The Monarch butterfly is on Ontario's endangered species list. This primarily has to do with a lack of milkweed, which is essential to the Monarch's well-being. Without milkweed, the Monarch butterfly would have no place to lay its eggs. Moreover, the plant provides the Monarch with toxins that it uses to fend off larger predators.
"People don't want milkweed," continued Hucker. "They've always been taught it's a bad plant and to rip it out. But these are the only plants that the Monarch can eat from."
Hucker has experienced some difficulties in attracting large numbers of Monarch butterflies this year. She attributes it to the many indigenous plants growing on her property that often harbour predators to the Monarch.
Local environmental activist Donald Barber, however, has had no problem attracting the butterflies this year. "I started last year and got very good results," he said. "I was quite pleased with it."
Barber, 52, has grown milkweed, as well as provided an open cage for Monarchs to use. He has also saved quite a few eggs and caterpillars, housing them on the milkweed leaves in a safe aquarium until they've grown more.
"If you don't collect the eggs when they're young, insects will eat them," he said. "I've saved quite a number of butterflies, and I very much hope that some of the ones I saved last year come back."
Hucker also collects the eggs and keeps them in a container. Using a magnifying glass, she is able to tell when the egg will hatch and releases it.
Both Hucker and Barber's conservatories have Monarchs that are in all stages of life. In addition to the full grown butterfly, there are Monarch eggs, caterpillars and chrysalises.
When the butterflies have grown, they begin their journey to the warmer climates of Mexico.
However, the high mortality rate amongst Monarch butterflies makes even beginning the journey a rare occurrence. Turning the tide is simple, explains Hucker. She said that if milkweed is allowed to grow, the number of Monarch butterflies will increase.
"It's not a big sacrifice for anybody to put aside a bit of property and give a place for something to live," he said. "If you grow a patch of milkweed, you have an abundance of food for them."
Hucker takes notes on her conservatory, allowing her to examine areas that may need improvement if she hopes to attract more Monarchs next year.
Barber said that he would like to continue the Monarch conservatory next year as well. "People grow flowers just because they're beautiful," he said. "I guess you could think of the Monarch as flowers with wings."
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