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9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
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Fri & Sat:
9:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
2:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m

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Monarch Magic at the Library; KHCPL South to form Butterfly Garden


The monarch is a magical creature, undergoing a complete metamorphosis from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. 


But the dwindling monarch population makes it clear that if we don’t intervene, we could lose them. 


Over the past two decades, the monarch butterfly population in North America has sharply declined and faces a risk of quasi-extinction of 11 to 57 percent in the next 20 years, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is currently considering placing them on the endangered species list. 

Tagging butterflies helps us track their migratory patterns.


“With the yearlong Grow the Solution Together project in 2016, KHCPL began educating the community about the dire need to increase the number of native plants in order to replenish the dwindling food sources for butterflies and other pollinators, which are, in turn, crucial to our food supply,” said Lisa Fipps, KHCPL Director of Marketing. “So when local monarch expert Valerie Gordon and the Howard County Master Gardener Association approached us about a partnership to help save monarchs, we immediately said, ‘Yes!’ ”


The first step is to get butterfly enthusiasts in Kokomo and the surrounding communities to unite. To do that, the library is hosting the Monarch Magic program at for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20, at KHPCL South.


Gordon, one of a growing number of people raising butterflies to help increase the population, will teach people how to raise butterflies.


“Not only is it important to raise them, but also to inspect them for the ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) parasite,” Fipps said. “You press clear tape against the butterfly's abdomen to collect parasite spores and then examine them under a microscope. If a butterfly has the OE parasite, it must humanely be destroyed in order to save the species. Valerie will demonstrate how to do that during Monarch Magic. She will also show how to tag butterflies.”


The Monarch Watch Tagging Program is a large-scale citizen science project that was initiated in 1992 to help understand the dynamics of the monarch's fall migration through mark and recapture. Tagging helps answer questions about the origins of monarchs that reach Mexico, the timing and pace of the migration for winter, mortality during the migration, and changes in geographic distribution.


“We’ll also have a butterfly release at the end of the program,” Fipps said. “Others who have raised, screened for the OE parasite, and tagged butterflies are encouraged to join us to release them at KHCPL South.”


Gordon, the Howard County Master Gardener Association, and KHCPL hope to find enough monarch enthusiasts to tend to a butterfly garden that’s in the works at KHCPL South.


“ManUp will be helping us clear 10 flatbed gardens at the end of the month so we can create a habitat,” Fipps said. “Then Valerie and members of the Howard County Master Gardener Association will be planting milkweed and nectar plants to attract butterflies and to provide a food source for caterpillars. We’re going to need volunteers to help weed the KHCPL Butterfly Garden and add plants.”


Caterpillars feed on milkweed


Gordon started the “Kokomo IN Butterfly Gardeners” Facebook page, and KHCPL will be sharing those posts in addition to other educational information about butterflies. “If you are a butterfly enthusiast or care about the environment, this is a timely, crucial project to get involved in.”