Valdosta Daily Times

October 26, 2013

Lowndes family gives butterflies a warm home

Stuart Taylor
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — When you go to check your mail, you usually expect some bills, some junk, a magazine, maybe a wedding or graduation invitation.

You don’t usually expect a box full of Monarch butterflies.

That’s what arrived on Thursday in Heather and Jesse Boyd’s mailbox, courtesy of Heather’s uncle, wildlife photographer Monte Loomis.

Loomis ordered 12 Monarch butterflies so he could photograph their life cycle. Afterwards, he let 10 of them go and kept two in his greenhouse. Those two laid hundreds of eggs, which eventually led to hundreds of cocoons.

But with butterflies needing a warm temperature at least in the 60s to hatch and the average temperature in New York currently hovering around 50 degrees, the odds of the Monarchs emerging safely were slim to none.

So he called his niece, Heather, and asked if he could send them to her in South Georgia.

“He felt bad about them,” said Heather. “It was an attempt to save them.”

Loomis superglued each cocoon to the end of a toothpick, then packaged them as safely and firmly as he could, then sent them off.

While a few were lost due to hatching during transport, 440 of them made it safely. Heather, Jesse and their kids quickly set up the toothpicks on boards. Since Thursday, they’ve had 30 Monarchs hatch, with more hatching all the time.

The Boyds estimate that the entire rabble will emerge within the next couple of weeks.