The travels of a monarch butterfly are not easy. Using multiple spawnings along the way, the small, colorful creatures move across North America, heading north in the warm months before returning to Mexico for winter. Given the difficult journey they endure, it only seems right that someone give them a boost.
That’s exactly what Hood’s Do it Best Hardware in Wyandotte, Michigan, has done. Sitting within the candle aisle in the gifts section of the store is a converted clothes hamper that now houses butterflies in different stages of their lifecycle. The brainchild of owner Patti Christie, who raises monarch and black swallowtail butterflies, the enclosure provides shelter and food for the butterflies while also putting on a display for customers.
“I really have a passion for butterflies, and this was a great way to both help their numbers grow while engaging new people with their beauty,” says Christie, who also operates Waystation 6989 in the Monarch Waystation Program. “If you tried to raise them in your garden, it’s about a 5 percent chance they emerge. In this habitat, it’s more like 95 percent.”
The black swallowtails feed on herbs like dill and parsley before forming a chrysalis and emerging in adult form, while the monarchs feed on milkweed, which Christie harvests each day. When ready to be released, Christie makes sure to put out a notice for her fellow butterfly enthusiasts so they can gather at the store for the event.
“We hold on to them for a few hours after they emerge, but they tend to get feisty in the habitat if they’re in there too long,” Christie says. “It’s great to see kids and even adults become fascinated when we let them release the butterflies.”
Hood’s Do it Best Hardware also holds an annual Pollinator Day for education on bees, birds, butterflies and other pollinating insects. For more information about monarch butterflies, visit monarchwatch.org.