How it all started with me and the Monarch butterflies

Hello everyone! And thank you so much for visiting our site.

I’m Maria Romero. This passion for Monarch butterflies started back in 2010, just before the devastating earthquake in Christchurch. I remember discovering my first swan plants at a Playcentre I went to with my children. There was a science table with eggs and caterpillars on the plant.

I thought this would be cool thing to do at home with Lucas and Lola. I never knew it would lead to so many great things and that I would learn so much, years down the track.

I was as amazed as my kids were and thought it was fantastic that anyone could buy a swan plant and see this beautiful process in their own home.  Every year I bought more and more plants and it was great, that this accessible approach to science was available, for anyone who was keen. My children soon took over and made sure that there were enough leaves for the caterpillars to feed on and counted each day how many chrysalises there were, noticing when a Monarch Butterfly was just about to emerge.

As a stay at home mum, I spent a lot of time in my garden growing heaps of herbs, vegetables and flowers from seed. Every year I enjoyed creating beautiful colourful hanging baskets of flowers and taking in pride in my garden.

We’d spend hours out there. From a young age, Lucas and Lola would pick their own carrots, steal all the red strawberries, blueberries and do all the watering for me while I took care of all my vegetable boxes.  

I found this so rewarding. I was feeling at peace, with a sense of achievement for the day, while being immersed in nature. The best thing is I’d have friends around most days for a visit, the kids would play on their bikes, and we’d relax with a cuppa. We’d be chatting away and admiring all the beauty around us; Monarchs flying past and feeding off my plants, new ones spend the afternoon drying out their wings to gain strength to fly and start their journey.

My friends’ children also liked to see my swan plants and got curious and they went out and bought their own. There were many occasions they’d go home with a plant or two or just a box of caterpillars for their plants at home.

I soon started to read more information about the diseases and talk to people that had been raising Monarchs for years. I went on and completed an online course on how to raise Monarch to have more of an understanding of the metamorphosis (life cycle) and make sure my garden had the right nectar flowers for the Monarchs to arrive.  

In April 2016 I saw there was a need to educate young children about raising Monarch butterflies, and I had a vision to write a quick 1 page A4 guide that I could give to my daughter’s teacher.

After a week or so, this idea started to explode into a book.  I started to use all my network, friends and teacher friends to learn how I could connect with the schools and what they were already teaching in regards to the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly.

I felt there was a a real need for an educational guide on Monarchs for people who were wanting a resource to learn more. Anyone who loves Monarchs would love this book, as there’s so much great information available to read from a mother’s point of view and experiences NOT in a scientific form, lots of colours, photos I’ve taken over the years and important basic facts on raising Monarchs.

Winter of 2016 I had caterpillars right through as the autumn was so mild and I was waiting for a rest as the season was so long and I needed a break, with a young toddler that was full of energy.  Each day I found more chrysalis and caterpillars and was worried they wouldn’t last the winter. I had to bring them inside and this took up a lot of my time bringing in the chrysalises from outside individually so they could keep warm and didn’t freeze.

I was learning every day, taking notes, photos, and writing dates of when the caterpillar went into a chrysalis so I could compare if there were differences between breeding Monarchs in the winter and summer. I started taking photos for my book too and as I had many Monarchs that had diseases (which is relatively normal at the end of the season).

I learned so much through experience, online, and Monarch butterfly groups. I’d like to share my knowledge and educate people how to minimise disease amongst the caterpillars by keeping their swan plant areas clean, and the signs of sick caterpillars so we can isolate them.

It’s amazing when you have a passion for something. It just flows out and I’ve really enjoyed this incredible experience. The best part of it is we’re saving these beautiful creatures for future generations, by educating the young bright conscious children of today.

Everyone I speak to has their own story about Monarch butterflies as they mean many things to so many people. Maybe it’s a sign of a loved one flying past that has passed away. A sign of transformation; that something beautiful is about to happen in their life or a symbol of hope. Seeing a Monarch fly past you is all you need to put a smile on your face.

Monarchs are widely loved as they’re such precious beautiful creatures. They fly so eloquently and you get a chance to see them right up close – how lucky are we?!

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