June Blog

My name is Lizzie Prather and I’m the intern at the Butterfly House this summer


June 2013,

The end of my first month of being the Butterfly House Intern is approaching. I’ve learned a lot this first month. When I moved my things into the house with my mom a week before I started in May, I knew I would have to research quite a bit when I went back home to Sun Prairie for the week. I started making displays on the environmental topics I knew about. These include climate change, sustainability, and the basic information on invasive species.

These topics all relate to butterflies because of how much impact there is on different species because of the changing climate and invasive species. I researched the invasive species in Door County and saw how many there are. I was not surprised to see Garlic Mustard because that invasive species is everywhere in Wisconsin. Living a more sustainable lifestyle is one way to reduce climate change and help species survive.

When I was home, I talked to a woman from the church my mom works at, about butterflies. She teaches home school kids and one of the things she does is teach them about butterflies and watching them grow from caterpillars to butterflies. She told me about the monarch migration to Mexico. I had never heard about it and instantly became interested. She showed us a video from NOVA about it which is the one I play at the Butterfly House. It talks about deforestation in Mexico and illegal logging. I learned how this is effecting the population of the monarchs and that 75% of them did not make it to Mexico one year. As an Environmental Policy Major, deforestation is a huge deal to me. Especially, how it affects different species, like the monarchs. My field of study deals with making policies to prevent events such as this from happening. Policies are made to protect different areas of forests; however that does not always stop deforestation.

After I got here to the Island, I started working with Joe and Valerie on developing the house. Joe and I went to search for milkweed but found none because of how cold it has been. Joe also planted sunflowers in the pots out front with me. Valerie and I have gotten a screen structure put together where we will put moths and butterflies once they have been caught. We got Polyphemus eggs and cocoons for Polyphemus, Luna, Calleta, and Cecropia moths from Prince Edward Island. I made displays with the information and added to the information for older displays for each species. Through making these displays, and working with the cocoons, I have grown my knowledge about moths. I’ve also been reading some of the books in the house and have learned about butterflies.

Valerie was looking for a display case that we could put in the house. With the help of volunteers, we got an eight-foot glass display into the house through the window. The display case holds antiques and Joe’s old displays of pinned insects. Valerie had the idea of starting a gift shop at the house. She told me to find the shirts that she and Joe had because they were really neat. I’ve also painted the kitchen and the recycled benches with their family friend, Bob.

I just learned recently that we will hang milkweed from the ceiling and leave the monarch caterpillars on it. The caterpillars will then make their way to the ceiling and make their chrysalis there. I’m looking forward to seeing this because I can see the monarchs grow which I have never gotten the chance to see.

I have started working as a server at Bread & Water. I really enjoy knowing that I’m working for a place that is environmentally conscious with Travel Green certification. I will also start another job in the next couple of weeks as a dishwasher. At the end of the summer, I’m hoping to be financially stable enough to move to Seattle. I’m planning on eventually applying to a school in Olympia, Washington for a Masters in Environmental Studies.

In my free time I’ve been biking around the Island. I’ve biked to the Lavender Shop, the Farm Museum, the Jacobson Museum, Jackson Harbor, and Mountain Park to climb the tower. I also bike to the library to get more books to read. I do not have a car or cell phone service up here; however I’ve been enjoying a simpler lifestyle.

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