Every time Audrey McGuire gives a presentation on butterflies, she hopes people get more interested in monarch butterflies … and stop pulling milkweed plants.
Since she was 3, Audrey has been raising and learning more about butterflies since she was 3. Now 14, she gives presentations to people of all ages on monarch life cycle and habitat.
Her next event will be at 5 p.m. Monday, July 10, in Elkhart Public Library’s downtown location.
Audrey became interested in butterflies when her parents gave her and her siblings a butterfly net, which came with a few painted lady butterflies they raised. They loved it. After some research, they found monarchs were easy to raise from the wild, and she began raising them from caterpillars, through chrysalis and to release.
Last year, Audrey was able to release 200 monarchs, an exceptionally good year. She usually averages about 100 each year.
“When you have flowers around, the butterflies are really pretty,” she says. “It’s really fun to watch them. They’re cool insects.”
For Audrey, the best part of presenting is just getting to share all of the butterflies she has with those in the audience. She’s been a featured speaker at Ox Bow County Park, Wellfield Botanic Gardens, and other places around Elkhart County.
Each presentation depends on the age of the audience, but for a typically younger crowd, Audrey starts with a basic explanation of what she does. Then she might read “Gotta Go! Gotta Go!” a picture book about a caterpillar trying to get to Mexico by Sam Swope, or she might show them a book full of photos she made herself. She might even have a slideshow.
After that, Audrey opens up the time for questions, so those who are curious about what she presented get the chance to ask what’s on their minds. If she has any butterflies, chrysalises or caterpillars, she will bring those along so people get to see them in person.
Monarchs have an important role, and Audrey hopes her education sessions help the butterfly population, which has been on the decline.
“Monarchs help pollinate plants,” Audrey says, “and if they didn’t, we wouldn’t have a lot of the plants that we do have.”
Milkweed plants are one of the main habitats for monarch butterflies, but people tend to remove these weeds from gardens. Audrey says she wishes people would realize the significance of the monarch butterflies to wildlife, and in turn, the importance of the milkweed plant to monarch butterflies.
“I think butterflies are cool,” Audrey says. “It’s really fun to be able to see them turn from a chrysalis to a butterfly.”
The July 10 presentation is a Camp GeoTrekkers event for the summer reading program, eligible for a passport stamp.