Eight-year-old Morgan Mansfield loves Monarch Butterflies, and she can tell you everything you need to know about them.
The young Orillia resident is on a mission to help the graceful creatures to not only survive, but thrive.
Morgan and her mom Gavy are Butterfly Rangers through the Butterflyway Project.
Part of their mission is to grow pollinator plants in their community, including the much-needed, Milkweed.
Morgan says that Milkweed is important because it’s the only plant that caterpillars will eat.
“If they don’t have Milkweed, they won’t survive she explains.
Two years ago, the mother and daughter witnessed a bunch of Milkweed near their home mowed down, caterpillars and all.
The following year, Morgan had a plan to save the caterpillars.
Her mom Gavy recalls, “she watched a monarch butterfly lay its egg, and she came running inside and said,’ I just saw a monarch, and it was laying an egg, and I’ve got the egg right here on a leaf!’ That was the start of it all.”
That year Morgan raised about 100 monarch butterflies in their backyard, even giving them great names ranging from “Toothfairy’ to “Sir Poops A lot.”
In order to raise that many butterflies; they had to apply for a permit with the Toronto entomologist society.
“They make sure all the raising conditions are met and that everything’s healthy. We had an excellent release rate around 98% by the end of the season.” Gavy explains.
The family understands that the city has to maintain their ditches.
“The city obviously has to continue their maintenance,” Gavy says. We are more about building proper habitats.”
The duo is focused on having as many people as they can plant pollinator gardens so the caterpillars can continue their life cycle in a natural habitat.
“We’re growing as many plants as we can from seed to be able to give away to people who want to be part of this initiative, and we would love to create 12 pollinator gardens in Orillia,” Gavy says.
Morgan adds that helping the monarchs is a very easy process. All you have to do is plant the flowers and then leave them alone.
However, watering is needed when things get dry.
And if you ask her, the best part of raising them is naming them and releasing them.
Orillia residents who want to get involved can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on becoming a Butterfly Ranger and the Butterflyway Program can be found here
images supplied by Gavy Swan-Mansfield