Monarch butterflies have started their long, three-generation migration north. Last year, a late-winter storm reduced their numbers drastically. It could be two months before they show up in Illinois again, but there are ways to start preparing for their return.
Peggy Doty has raised and released more than 400 monarch butterflies over the past four years. She’s an educator with the University of Illinois Extension, but finds she’s the student when it comes to raising monarchs. She says they’re good at teaching anguish, because you can’t protect and save them all. But the payoff is in watching the life cycle from egg to butterfly.
Doty raises her butterflies outdoors at her home in Sycamore in a special box under a screened-in room. She finds the eggs and tiny caterpillars during twice-daily sweeps of the milkweed in her yard. She encourages people to continue planting native milkweed so the monarchs have a place to lay their eggs when they arrive this summer.
Doty shares her monarch stories Sunday at the Kickapoo Center in Oregon.