INCREASING the BUTTERFLY POPULATION
Welcome, my name is Kim and my husband is Mark, we have been raising butterflies for about 10 years. It started after we were at Mark’s sister’s house and she was complaining about caterpillars eating her parsley. Mark brought that caterpillar home with us; me objecting the whole way. After the black swallowtail caterpillar turned into a chrysalis (caterpillar cocoon, has a hard shell) and then into a butterfly, we were hooked. Soon we were learning about butterflies from presentations and books. We started with that one black swallowtail caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly, to raising other butterflies.
When we were on vacation in the Poconos we found a butterfly sanctuary that had talks on monarch butterflies. When we came home we looked for monarch caterpillars. Once I saw a caterpillar climbing up the side of our house that mimicked a cobra. That caterpillar is called a spicebush caterpillar and it is my favorite caterpillar. Now we raise black swallowtail, monarch and spicebush swallowtail butterflies.
Next thing I knew Mark was landscaping our backyard into a butterfly garden with host plants and nectar plants. We call it the "How Great Thou Art Butterfly Sanctuary." When in full bloom an assortment of butterflies are sipping nectar from the beautiful flowers making it a peaceful place to be.
August 1, 2013 we were certified as an official butterfly garden by the North American Butterfly Association. What this means is that our garden 'provides resources that increase the world's population of butterflies,' by NABA standards
KEEPING the DATA
This butterfly thing started out as a hobby but now it is much more; they are our children.
Mark and I raise and release our butterflies. I began keeping track of how many butterflies we released in 2010. The previous year we had monarch chrysalides (2 or more chrysalis) all over our yard. They were hanging off of the trees, the plants, the rakes and the siding of our shed. You name it and there was a monarch chrysalis on it. It has never been like that again.