Master Gardener Monarch Nursery Network

Sheltering and raising Monarch butterflies has caught on in Franklin County this year. An informal network has sprung up and wound its way out into the community.

A small Monarch nursery in New Franklin

A small Monarch nursery in New Franklin

When neighbor Mrs. King called a local Master Gardener over to check her milkweed for caterpillars they were pleased to find one. With her grandson coming to visit over the weekend she wanted to show him and maybe see a chrysalis.

Franklin County Master Gardeners have been active in promoting the efforts to save the Monarch butterflies in several ways: growing milkweed from seed to use and sell at their plant sale, presenting programs for local organizations, giving classes on pollinators and butterfly gardening, and providing a butterfly release last year plus designing and maintaining a pollinator garden.

This year as some Master Gardeners began finding Monarch eggs or caterpillars on their milkweed plants they decided to follow the process from egg to larvae to pupa and adult butterfly. While some collected eggs others gently put the caterpillars into containers to feed and observe them through the final process.

Master Gardeners helped Mrs. King set up a nursery for her caterpillar and gave her instructions on how to care for it until it was ready to take wing.

As part of their continuing education this year local Master Gardeners will have a Lunch and Learn program on Raising Monarch Butterflies (not open to the public). Answers to questions about milkweed and what to expect as to how it grows, about caterpillars, and about raising Monarchs from eggs to caterpillars to butterflies will be addressed. This will provide them with the information they need to help the public learn about these beautiful butterflies.

Mrs. King's caterpillar became a chrysalis today. With an estimated 10 -15 days to butterfly emergence she may be lucky and get a return visit from her grandson as she won't release it until the day after it emerges.