Our goal was to raise awareness about Monarch butterflies and their role as pollinators. Monarch populations are declining. We wanted staff and students to witness the metamorphosis of Monarchs.
We also emphasised the need to for pesticide-free flowers to be purchased and grown at home. Many retailers claim to have labelled their flowers that were free of neonicotinoids but the local nurseries, hardware stores and nurseries we visited had not labelled the safe plants and their staff members were unaware of the policies, despite being advertised on their websites. We made our staff and students aware of the plant sales in the area where pesticide free flowers could be found. We also encouraged planting milkweed for Monarchs.
Special Needs students and members of the BRIGHT EcoTeam purchased milkweed from St. William’s Nursery and Ecology Centre. They obtained 10 monarch caterpillars and 45 Painted Lady caterpillars which were raised in the greenhouse. Watching the caterpillars transform into chrysalis form was truly spectacular! One monarch transformation was filmed and shared with other staff and students. Once the caterpillars became chrysalides, they were moved to a storage room that has a large window. The monarch chrysalides and some painted lady chrysalides were hot-glued to curtain rods placed in the window along with posters describing the life-cycle. The remaining painted lady chrysalides were pinned to a curtain hung in the room. Once butterflies began to eclose, the posters were removed from the window and staff and students could not only witness the butterflies eclose but also view them feeding and flying around our small conservatory. Later, staff and students released the butterflies.