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Thompson woman saving butterflies

Posted on Tuesday, June 13, 2023 at 11:54 am

A Thompson woman is spreading beauty and helping save an endangered species.

“When I find a caterpillar or an egg, I usually put them in a small container,” Toni Lawrence said. “They have end stars where they actually shed their skin, or their cuticle. Each time they do, they get a little bigger. When they get big enough, the caterpillars will make a little silk button and hang upside down from it in a “J” shape for a few days,” as she enthusiastically described that portion of the Monarch Butterfly’s cycle of life, she walked down the path from the log cabin where she and her husband Tim live, to their horse stable. She was accompanied by two children, Logan and Allyson Scott along with their grandmother, Lois Beahan.

Logan and Allyson Scott with Toni Lawrence preparing to release a Monarch

“And that is when they go to a chrysalis. That’s weird, it takes about 17 minutes from when they get a little green spot on the top of their head. Until they become a chrysalis, it looks like an alien being eaten, they go green and then they turn into this chrysalis. Then in about seven to 10 days they emerge or eclose as a butterfly. Your Monarchs are kind of special as far as the chrysalis is concerned because they will have gold dots around the top, and are kind of an emerald green.”

Toni said she feeds the caterpillars cleaned milkweed leaves as often as four times a day.

“I clean the leaves to make sure there are no insect eggs on them,” she said. “Tea flies are a predator of the caterpillars and that keeps them away from the caterpillars.”

She said she was inspired to begin her work with Monarchs by two friends; Linda Mongler and Alta Wilkerson. “Both were doing it. I was giving Alta my caterpillars, but I had a lot of things to do around here. Then she gave me a mesh cage and said, ‘Here, you do it.’”

For the complete article, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard