Karen's Butterfly House

I told you about my friend and colleague, Dr. Karen Stock, who is saving the world, one butterfly at a time. Well, since our last visit, she has upped her game somewhat. Her husband and father-in-law built her an actual butterfly green-house so that she could move all of her incubation nets there, in a closer to nature environment.
Her new butterfly house is a sturdy wooden structure made with clear corrogated plastic and insulated with styrofoam. It keeps the developing caterpillars (a.k.a. "pillars") and butterflies safe and warm while they develop. If you recall, Karen gows lots of milkweed (the Monarch's favorite food) to attract them to her yard. She looks for baby pillars on the leaves, and when she finds them, she brings them inside to keep them safe in her butterfly nets until they are ready to be released. Here are her 'nets' to the left...
and her nets to the right...
She truly is saving the world one butterfly at a time, it's not an exaggeration.
     Karen invited Stan and I out to see because, even though the monarchs got a late start this year, they have been more numerous than she's ever experienced. Here's one getting close to time to come out of it's chrysalis (note: Karen corrected me, a butterfly makes a chrysalis, a moth makes a cocoon!), you can see the pattern of its wings inside!
Karen took this photo of one just out of its chrysalis. Turns out a red fluid drops beneath a chrysalis when a butterfly comes out—fluids that developed inside the chrysalis.
For our visit, about ten of the monarchs were ready to be released.
I liked the one that loved reading...
Karen urged me to help a stubborn butterfly find the opening.
I thought it ironic that my nail-polish was so well color-coordinated to the Halloween-colored beauties.
It really is magic to have such a fragile creature trust you.
Turns out, I was holding a male. Karen shares this photo where you can see how to tell the difference. Males have two black dots at the base of their wings.
When this little guy did fly away, he headed straight for Karen's butterfly bush.
Truly, if I were a new butterfly in Karen's welcoming yard, I'm not sure I'd ever leave! (The image below is big if you want to open it in a new window, right click, and save it as a screen saver or some such.)
Of course, mostly they do leave, because Monarchs migrate, and that's the whole point of all of Karen's work—to help rebuild the waning Monarch population. Sadly, I missed her BIG release the day before, when she let about 50 butterflies go; but Karen got a short video of that:


With such a welcoming butterfly sanctuary in her yard, Karen helps other species of butterflies too, like the Golden Fritilary. I'll tell you more about them soon...

1 comment:

Jennifer Oberholtzer said...

That is so cool and really beautiful! ❤️