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Greensburg Garden Center butterfly release attracts hundreds

Jacob Tierney
| Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, 2:30 p.m.
Monarchs make their way to flowers in the Butterfly Garden at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Monarchs make their way to flowers in the Butterfly Garden at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.
Butterfly expert Rick Mikula dresses the part during a presentation during  the annual Greensburg Garden Center's  butterfly release, held Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Butterfly expert Rick Mikula dresses the part during a presentation during the annual Greensburg Garden Center's butterfly release, held Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township.
A Monarch sits perched in a pair of hands during the annual Greensburg Garden Center butterfly release at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township on Sat., Aug. 12, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
A Monarch sits perched in a pair of hands during the annual Greensburg Garden Center butterfly release at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township on Sat., Aug. 12, 2017.
Kaylee Kauffman releases a butterfly during the annual Greensburg Garden Center butterfly release at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Kaylee Kauffman releases a butterfly during the annual Greensburg Garden Center butterfly release at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.
Timothy Norman holds daughter, Elizabeth, as she gets a closer look at a butterfly during the annual Greensburg Garden Center butterfly release at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Timothy Norman holds daughter, Elizabeth, as she gets a closer look at a butterfly during the annual Greensburg Garden Center butterfly release at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.
Children and parents observe butterflies in a small bug tent during the annual Greensburg Garden Center butterfly release at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Children and parents observe butterflies in a small bug tent during the annual Greensburg Garden Center butterfly release at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.
Parents and children participate in the annual Greensburg Garden Center butterfly release at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Parents and children participate in the annual Greensburg Garden Center butterfly release at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.
Butterfly expert Rick Mikula dresses the part during a presentation during  the annual Greensburg Garden Center's  butterfly release, held Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Butterfly expert Rick Mikula dresses the part during a presentation during the annual Greensburg Garden Center's butterfly release, held Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township.
A butterfly perches on a flower during the annual Greensburg Garden Center butterfly release at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
A butterfly perches on a flower during the annual Greensburg Garden Center butterfly release at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Unity Township on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.

“Butterfly Guy” Rick Mikula thinks monarchs will be just fine, despite fears by some to the contrary.

“The monarch butterfly will never become extinct. There's just too many of them,” he told a crowd Saturday at Unity's Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve. “In September, you're going to see more monarch butterflies than you've seen in the last five or 10 years.”

Mikula has studied and bred butterflies for more 35 years, educating people across the country about his findings.

The Luzerne County resident is a fixture at the Greensburg Garden Center's annual monarch release, which draws hundreds.

Children and adults Saturday carefully grasped envelopes containing monarch butterflies and released them into the sky on Mikula's countdown.

Avery Ticherich, 6, of Greensburg watched rapt, wearing her set of butterfly wings as the monarch she released circled her before landing on her “butterfly wand,” a bunch of flowers many children held to persuade the butterflies to stick around briefly before fluttering off.

“I like that they have different colors on their wings,” Avery said.

Garden center President Carla Rusnica said children's reactions to the butterflies motivate her to keep holding the event.

“I love the kids' looks and the awe,” she said.

This was the seventh year of the release but the first time it was held at the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve instead of the Greensburg Garden Center on Old Salem Road.

“We just thought a new venue would attract different people,” Rusnica said.

The reserve hosted two releases Saturday to better handle the growing crowds. About 250 butterflies were released.

Before the releases, Mikula gave a presentation about butterflies, complete with a costume he donned to demonstrate their unusual anatomy. He gave advice about how to safely catch and keep butterflies at home, including his secret for keeping them happy and alive longer — a mixture of Gatorade and soy sauce.

“They don't bark, they don't bite and they don't need a litter box,” he said, “so they make the perfect pet.”

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646 or jtierney@tribweb.com.

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