Rearing and Releasing Monarch Butterflies

Just in time for our unit on insects, the “Fireflies” unit in Moving Beyond the Page, we have our first reared Monarch butterflies to release this year. This isn’t the first time we’ve done this, she knows the host plant, can spot the eggs and small caterpillars. Jana has, unsurprisingly, been exposed to a number of entomological experiences throughout her life.

As a naturalist, she is a natural. She has a good eye at spotting something new and different. She continually adds to her collection of “treasures” whether it’s a shell, smooth stone, acorn, interesting leaf or feather. She acted as one of the guides when our garden featured on our neighborhood garden tour, identifying plants, flowers and vegetables (much more knowledgeable than a number of our neighbors I might add). She also has a quick hand, strolling down our driveway she snatched an Eight Spotted Forester day flying moth out of the air asking, “what’s this Momma?” That quick hand is also a gentle hand, befriending a Katydid for six or so hours over the course of a day; or playing with a spider in the kiddie pool for over half an hour floating it on boats and letting it climb up and down her arms. Her general lack of fear of wildlife comes into play while fishing with her Dad as well, she has no qualms reeling in, grasping fish and removing hooks on her own, of which she can identify many common species. But I digress as a proud biologist Momma.

So this year with our Monarchs, we’re taking our “citizen science” a step further and participating in a tagging program through Monarch Watch. It’s just a small way to participate in the “bigger picture” with Jana. She’s four and a half. She gets it; although she was a little sad to let the butterflies go (she really wanted to keep them), she knew we have to help take care of “her little buddies.”