A Manitoba woman who has been raising and releasing monarch butterflies for almost two decades said she’d almost given up until a ‘miracle’ this year led to dozens of caterpillars suddenly appearing.
“I think we all love butterflies and we’re all fascinated, no matter what age, when we see them in a park or in our yard,” Yvonne Sharples told 680 CJOB.
Sharples said she and her husband first attempted to encourage butterflies to take up residence in her back yard 20 years ago, but after a few failed attempts, she came up with a DIY solution.
“I converted an old birdcage, wrapped some netting around it, and brought them into my house,” she said.
“And lo and behold if they didn’t go into chrysalis, and a couple of weeks later, I had these beautiful pristine boys and girls that I started releasing.”
That cycle continued for years, until Sharples experienced a dearth of her insect friends over a four year period. She said she reached out to the butterfly experts at Winnipeg’s Living Prairie Museum – home of the annual Monarch Butterfly Festival – and they told her that based on her location, the grassland and milkweed was likely displaced due to rapid transit and housing development, and things looked very bleak.
Until this summer, when Sharples suddenly found 17 caterpillars.
“The only thing I can think of is maybe with the continuing decline in the habitat, they’re looking more desperately. I’m not sure. But right now, we have almost two dozen in chrysalis, which means within the next 12-14 days, we’ll be releasing two dozen monarch butterflies into the city.
“This is exciting for me – it’s exciting for everybody – and at the stage we’re at now, it’s important for people to know, because it’s so easy to help. You can literally go out with a pail and a shovel, go into the ditch, put some milkweed in your garden, give it some time, and you’ll get some.”
Sharples started the Manitoba Monarchs Facebook page to share her love of the butterflies and keep in touch with other locals who are trying to help monarchs after a decline in their migration numbers.
“It’s just to create awareness, post pictures, share experience,” she said.
“There are a few other butterfly pages and groups on Facebook, but none of them are specific to monarch butterflies.”
WATCH: Monarch Butterfly Festival at Living Prairie Museum
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