Monarch butterflies were released into the wild by children at a free workshop at the Eldersburg Library recently. It was the culmination of a series about native butterflies that was open to the public. It began in May and ended in September.
The butterflies, as well as a dozen or so chrysalises, were visible in delicate breeding cages during the final workshop. The Monarchs had been bred in University of Maryland (UMD) Extension Carroll County Master Gardeners’ (MG) homes during the summer in preparation for their release.
The highlight of the final class was the release of the butterflies by 15 children. Many Monarchs were tagged with tiny adhesive identifiers to help researchers chart their migration to Mexico.
The three-part program was designed to teach children and adults about butterflies and the flowers that provide them food and habitat for breeding.
The workshops covered lifecycle, habitat and anatomy, said JoAnn Beck, the MG who coordinated the program. The final class focused on Monarchs, she added. “We discussed how they were different from other butterflies, how they migrate, and why they eat Milkweed, a poisonous plant, Beck said. The program concluded with their release.
Twenty-seven children and adults attended the two-hour event, which included a film, crafts and work sheets. Everyone went home with milkweed seeds to germinate and plant next spring to support Monarchs when they return.
More than 50 people attended the previous two workshops.
The event was organized by the UMD Extension Carroll County MGs, who also oversee the native garden adjacent to the Carroll County Public Library in Eldersburg.
Photos from top to bottom: A Monarch rests on the hand of a child before taking flight. Monarch hatched inside special cages from eggs that were collected from Milkweed plants.