ShareThis Page
Home & Garden

Slickville woman lends helping hand to monarchs

Doug Oster
| Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, 8:35 p.m.
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season.
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. There are over 50 chrysalis hanging in her house, they will hatch into monarch butterflies.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. There are over 50 chrysalis hanging in her house, they will hatch into monarch butterflies.
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. Here she holds caterpillars in three different stages (called instars) of maturity.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. Here she holds caterpillars in three different stages (called instars) of maturity.
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. She holds a chrysalis in her hand that will become a butterfly.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. She holds a chrysalis in her hand that will become a butterfly.
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. These adults are inside a screened in area on her front porch and will be releases soon.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. These adults are inside a screened in area on her front porch and will be releases soon.
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. A butterfly hangs on a screened in area and will be released soon.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. A butterfly hangs on a screened in area and will be released soon.
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. These vented containers are filled with caterpillars at different stages of maturity.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. These vented containers are filled with caterpillars at different stages of maturity.
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. This caterpillar has fed on milkweed and will soon make the transformation to a butterfly.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. This caterpillar has fed on milkweed and will soon make the transformation to a butterfly.
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. A monarch butterfly hangs on a the side of a screened in area and will be released soon.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. A monarch butterfly hangs on a the side of a screened in area and will be released soon.
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. The caterpillar on the left is preparing to make its chrysalis, on the right is a chrysalis.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Karrie Klug of Slickville, Pa in Westmoreland County has been raising monarch butterflies from eggs and caterpillars in an effort to help the species. She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season. The caterpillar on the left is preparing to make its chrysalis, on the right is a chrysalis.

Fat green, white and black caterpillars climbed all over the milkweed plants along the driveway of Karrie Klug's Slickville home. She was thrilled, gently removing just three of them and some milkweed for nourishment to display in a container at the Mr. Tire store near Latrobe that she manages.

She was determined to raise them to adulthood and then watch as the others on the plant grew.

"It's a good conversation starter, and it's great to spread the word (about the plight of monarchs)," she says with a smile.

But when she returned home all her outdoor caterpillars were gone, probably feasted on by predators.

"I was heartbroken," she says. "After a couple more days, I found more eggs and brought them inside."

That started a healthy obsession of raising monarch caterpillars to maturity and then releasing them as adult butterflies. Through her research she discovered that in the wild, caterpillars only have a 3 to 5 percent chance of surviving.

"It was a wake-up call," she says. "If I can bring them in and give them better odds, why not?"

Family tradition

The 32-year-old was inspired as a child by her mom to help the species thrive.

"When I was little, my mother raised a couple on the kitchen counter," she says.

Her mother also let milkweed persist in her garden.

"When anybody asked her, 'Why are you growing a weed in your flower bed?' she would say, 'I'm helping the monarchs,' it just kind of stuck with me," Klug says.

Inside the house are more than 50 beautiful green chrysalis hanging, secured by tiny clothespins. Over by the window, striped monarch caterpillars in various stages of growth are enjoying milkweed plants as they prepare for their spectacular metamorphosis.

The process

When the caterpillars are done feeding, they will leave the plant to make a chrysalis. At first they climb and attach themselves to a leaf, branch or in this case, the top of the screened container. The caterpillar curls into a J shape and starts to shed. They don't spin a cocoon — the chrysalis is actually their living skin.

"It's truly amazing," she says of the transformation.

They are bright, vivid green with little gold specks, she says of the chrysalis. In nine to 14 days, the orange and black butterfly emerges and in another day will be ready to forage for nectar and then migrate to Mexico.

On the front porch sits a screened-in canopy that's a safe haven for her monarch butterflies that are inside waiting out a sudden cold snap and the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon.

She's released seven so far, but there are many more to go back into the wild. It might seem like a lot of work, but Klug enjoys the challenge.

"It takes some time, being as I have so many," she says of caring for the insects. "I've vowed never to leave one outside."

There are 15 milkweed plants on her property where she'll find eggs or caterpillars. She's also searching for plants out in the wild, looking for the white eggs and caterpillars along with a food source for them.

She's been tagging the butterflies before releasing them too, as a part of a program from Monarchwatch.com. The tags are a way to record how many butterflies are making it to their wintering grounds.

"Over the last two decades," Klug says, "their population has dropped about 80 percent."

'Anyone can do it'

She's not alone in wanting to help the butterflies; it's become a trend for people to help the species by raising them indoors.

"I have the space, the availability and the will to do it," she adds. "I spread the word to help the monarchs. If I have a better survival rate inside, then they have a better opportunity to get where they are going."

She hopes to release around 200 by the end of the season.

"The first two I raised, I took them down to the neighbor," Klug says smiling. "She's 96 and I let her release them. She was just so happy, it made her day."

"Anybody can do it," she adds. "They don't have to go as far as raising the caterpillars, just plant milkweed."

Article by Doug Oster, Everybody Gardens

http://www.everybodygardens.com

Copyright © 535media, LLC

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me