- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

SYCAMORE, Ill. (AP) - Janet Giesen hopes her raising and releasing of 17 monarch butterflies makes some sort of impact on the world around her.

Giesen, of Sycamore, started raising the butterflies in July and tracking their growth and movements. An avid lover of nature and keeper of prairie plants around her home, she’s a big believer in preserving nature. She said with climate change and their wavering amount of native plants for pollination, it’s difficult for monarchs to sustain their population. By Jessi Haish. The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle.

“I’m just trying to let these 17 have a chance,” she said.

Peggy Doty, University of Illinois extension environmental and energy stewardship, said as far as local populations go this year, she’s heard stories on both ends of the spectrum.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘I’ve seen so many this year,’ and others are saying they’ve only seen one,” Doty said. “There’s no way to possibly get a good number.”

Doty said she has raised and released 80 monarchs this summer. Raise and release is not the only option to keeping monarchs around, however. She encourages people to plant native, nectar-producing plants, in particular milkweed, which is the only type of plant on which monarch caterpillars will feed. She said the native plants attract the monarchs and give them a place to pollinate.

If people are interested in raising their own monarchs to release, Giesen said it’s a simple process. She uses two plastic containers with netting stretched across the top, placing fresh milkweed leaves in the containers each day. She said the biggest expense is time.

“You have to be patient,” she said. “But it’s interesting to just watch them.”

She said children and adults alike can learn a lot from watching the butterflies transform, calling the process a biological miracle. She currently has butterflies ready for release, but she’s been holding out on letting them go because of the recent chilly weather and winds.

Doty said during her summer raising the monarchs, she’s found the experience rewarding.

“I couldn’t believe the joy it brings me,” Doty said. “I’ve spent many mornings with my coffee just watching them.”

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ONLINE: The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle, https://bit.ly/1wiemL9

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Information from: The Daily Chronicle, https://www.daily-chronicle.com

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