A resident releases a butterfly as part of the Monarch Butterfly program at McCormick Home.
This summer, Carolyn Denstedt, a volunteer at McCormick Home, set up a butterfly display in our main common room for the second year in a row. We are very fortunate to have Carolyn, who is certified by the Ministry of Natural Resources, provide our residents with such a unique programming experience. The residents enjoy watching the caterpillars make their cocoons and hatch into beautiful butterflies. The butterflies are tagged and then released to the great outdoors.
The number of Monarch butterflies, probably the most recognized and beloved butterfly in Southwestern Ontario, has declined by approximately 80 per cent over the past 22 years. A number of factors contributing to this drop include pesticide use, loss of habitat in Mexico and North America, and severe weather.
This coming year in our garden, we will be continuing our elimination of pesticide use, providing butterfly houses, and planting many of the Monarch’s favourite nectaring plants. Just as important as milkweed is to the Monarch caterpillar, sources of nectar provided by certain flowers is vital to the adult Monarch’s survival and epic migration to Mexico. One would never depart on a road trip to Mexico from London without knowing there were many places to fuel our cars along the way. Late summer and early fall flowering plants are in a sense gas stations for Monarchs.
Did you know that once in Mexico, Monarch butterflies do not eat for the five months they are there? They rely on the fat they accumulate from nectar obtained during migration.
The residents and staff at McCormick Home are excited to be taking part in this effort to conserve these beautiful creatures. The impact on our residents has been phenomenal, particularly the experience of a resident releasing a butterfly in memory of a lost loved one. The symbolism of this moment often has a powerful and healing effect on those who participate.
We look forward to continuing our Monarch Butterfly program at the Home and are grateful to Carolyn for providing our residents with such a meaningful and rewarding life enrichment experience.
By Sue Cason, Life Enrichment and Volunteer Manager, McCormick Home and McCormick Dementia Services.