Where are Little Knights Preschool’s Butterflies?


Photo Credit Danielle May

Chrysalis hang from the lids of two enclosures. The dropper and dish feed the butterflies. “Once they emerge, we feed them sugar water to get their strength before we release them,” Early Childhood teacher Marie Hendry said.

Danielle May, Reporter

Have you noticed something missing at LHHS this spring? For the past decade, Little Knights Preschool has hosted butterflies, mantises or ants to teach about the life cycles of insects.  Because there wasn’t enough time in March to order them online, the preschool is growing plants as an alternative.

In past years, around 30 caterpillars resided in two enclosures for four weeks before being released into the tortoise habitat. According to Early Childhood teacher Marie Hendry,“We keep them for about a week or two after [emergence in April] so we know they’re fully developed. Other bugs and birds will eat them. They don’t have a chance if their wings aren’t fully developed.”

Photo Credit Danielle May
Milkweed is the only plant monarch caterpillars eat.

Important to the environment, butterflies pollinate plants (which a third of human food depends on), aid in insect control and serve as a food source for birds. In studies, their population indicates changes in the environment. The 80% decrease in their numbers is linked to climate change, habitat loss and pesticides.

Specifically, monitored butterfly species include monarch butterflies. With life spans of three weeks to nine months, it takes four generations to migrate the entire 3,000 mile journey from the Midwest to the South and back. Along the way, eggs are deposited on leaves of milkweed, the only plant monarch caterpillars eat. While fewer than 30,000 were spotted in California, Florida and Mexico have seen a rise in monarch butterflies staying for the winter.

Ways to help butterflies include avoiding the usage of pesticides and herbicides. Planting nectar-rich flowers and native milkweed may also attract more of them.