August Blog

I’m finishing up my internship in the next couple of days and leaving the Island on Saturday. I can’t believe how fast this summer has gone and how busy I was between the internship and two jobs. I’ve really enjoyed my time on the Island and engaging the public with education about the environment, sustainability, and butterflies.

Over the summer I have learned a lot about butterflies and moths. I’m still intrigued that Monarchs migrate to the south and it takes one generation to get there but it takes three generations to get back up to Canada. I also find it interesting how the last generation lives up to 9 months while the other generations live 3-4 weeks. I love telling people about how the kinds of moths we have don’t eat anything because they don’t have digestive systems or mouth parts. Most people don’t know this fact so I know that I am teaching them something new.

I have enjoyed talking to people about environmental politics and sustainability since they are my main interest areas. I’ve had many conversations with people who have opinions similar to mine and I get excited to talk to them about what I’m thinking. One of these conversations was with Irene Mostek. Irene owns the house and she is very interested in sustainability and nature. Irene and a couple of other people who I’ve talked to tell me that they are glad that I chose the field I did and that there needs to be people like me in businesses and government. This just makes me more sure of my choice of being in the environmental field.

July Blog

My second month as the Environmental Education Intern has come to an end. This month I was busy greeting people coming in. I’m assuming July is the busiest month on the Island since that is when families try to take a vacation. Many people came in this month which gave me a chance to share all of the information I have learned.

Some of the moths came out of their cocoons throughout this month. The moths we have only live a couple of days since they don’t have a digestive system to eat. For this reason, we keep them captive for a couple of days and then release them. We keep them captive to see if the second cocoon of its species comes how and is the opposite sex of the first so they can breed. Valerie and I released the Luna Moth which came out during the first week of July and the Polyphemus moth that came out the third week in July. The Calleta moth came out of its cocoon about a week ago.

We have also gotten Monarchs. We have a monarch caterpillar and a chrysalis right now. The weather in July started off cold, got really hot for a couple of days, and then cooled now a lot. I’m thinking this is why there aren’t as many monarchs as normal. Joe has found the 3 we have. He can usually find them on the Milkweed behind Bread & Water. I’ve also been helping the ministry intern, Choi, with her Korean food at night. It has been nice to have someone else in the house during 11-2 and at night. I’m looking forward to being back in Madison in September. I’ll miss the Island and the people I’ve met here.

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.