The Woods Hole Public Library has again been hosting Monarch butterflies, as it has for the last ten years. They have been raising them from egg, through the rest of the stages of metamorphosis: caterpillar, chrysalis, adult. So far, since mid-August to the time of printing, they have raised and released 110 butterflies.
This is almost entirely due to local Woods Hole resident entomologist Becky Lash.
Since mid-August Becky has been maintaining a butterfly enclosure at the Library, first bringing in milkweed branches with a few tiny eggs hiding under the leaves. Over time they have hatched, chewed and grown their way through several instars to become huge caterpillars, which have climbed to the top of the netted tent, hung in a J shape, and formed a chrysalis. At one time there were more than fifty of the exquisite pale green chrysalises bordered with golden spots hanging from the top of the enclosure. In two weeks they emerged as beautiful , richly toned orange and black butterflies.
Every week, often several times a week, Becky has resupplied the milkweed and tidied the tent. The librarians have partnered with her to foster the insects, helping to refresh the milkweed and releasing the adults. So far, the Library has raised and released 110 adult Monarchs into the surrounding gardens and flowering shrubs. There are still more underway.
This year the Library will host a series of Monarch events, culminating in Monarch Day, in which Becky will give a presentation to an audience of all ages, and release one of the last butterflies (hopefully) to emerge from its chrysalis.
On Saturday, September 23, the Library will offer an afternoon of making costumes based on the stages of Monarch metamorphosis. Materials and simple plans will be available. Children and their care-givers are invited to come take part in constructing their costumes starting at 2 PM.
On the following Saturday, September 30, again at 2 PM, an afternoon craft workshop for children of all ages will be offered. All the crafts will be Monarch related, with a stress on metamorphosis. Some will be very simple suitable for young children; others will be more complicated.
Saturday, October 7, at 2 PM will feature Becky herself appearing and talking about the Monarchs. As always, she will present the story of the Monarchs and their life cycle in an understandable, yet gripping manner, which will appeal to all ages. After the talk, the group will move outside to release a Monarch and walk around in costume, viewing local habitat and celebrating this iconic migratory insect.
For more information about this event, which is free and open to the public, and aimed at children, (although adults are certainly welcome) call the Library at 508-548-8961.