What is the library staff up to?

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What is our library staff up to?  

Family members, Finn, from Digital & Maker Services, and Diane in Youth Services, are raising monarch caterpillars that Finn found on milkweed leaves. With plenty of fresh milkweed, the caterpillars are growing plump and a few are beginning to spin green chrysalises that hang down from the top of their outdoor enclosure like pea pods hanging off a stem. By exposing the caterpillars to natural sunlight, the adult butterflies will be more likely to have a strong navigation system. Monarchs raised indoors sometimes have difficulty flying in the right direction when migrating.

The great great great grandchildren of these butterflies will be the ones to start the migration to the mountains of the Sierra Madre in the fall to overwinter. Finn will tag monarchs in September for Monarch Watcha conservation and research group based out of the University of Kansas. The butterflies born now will get busy creating a new generation before their two-week life cycle is over. 

Although tagging butterflies or raising a few to teach your family is fine, experts say it’s more important to address why the species is in trouble to begin with such as loss of habitat, pesticides, and climate change. Here are some tangible ways you can help:

-Plant native milkweed and flowers

-Avoid pesticides

-Support wildlife-friendly, local, and organic agriculture

-Take action to protect natural habitat

-Contribute to research efforts via community science

-Organize ourselves to push for policy changes

The Wilmette Public Library has planted all-native trees, plants, and shrubs, and uses all-organic fertilizer and weed pesticides as part of our green initiatives to support wild things like butterflies, birds, and bees. 

If you want to learn more about butterflies in general and maybe even certify your garden as a butterfly sanctuary, nababutterfly.org has useful information. Also, Monarch Watch will send you a kit for tagging and participating in research.

Let’s hope monarch populations will return to healthy levels through our conservation efforts.

Post Author
Diane dos Santos