Some people like to go fields and pick wildflowers for a beautiful display of color, but Dayna Inbody of Tolar prefers to pick milkweed leaves.
And that’s just what she has been doing the last four weeks. Not for a bouquet, but for science.
The Weatherford College instructor handpicks the milkweed leaves that have monarch butterfly eggs and larvae. She takes them home and raises them through various life stages until the butterflies emerge from their chrysalis. Then she will tag them with lightweight stickers and set them free to migrate to forests in the mountains in Central Mexico.
Tagging helps scientists monitor monarch population.
“I find the milkweed along fence rows, Acton Nature Center and a friend’s ranch,” said Inbody. “After harvesting (the leaves) I wash them to get rid of any other insects. I store mine in a Ziplock bag in the refrigerator and keep the bag clean and a fresh food supply. I have to let my husband know it’s not salad.”
She eventually moves them to a tent where they continue growing, form a chrysalis and emerge, ready to be tagged.
Dayna and her husband Chris are have both gone through the Master Naturalist program through the Rio Brazos Master Naturalists and have spent many hours working at the Acton Nature Center.
“I started to get interested in butterflies, how to attract them, their life cycle and the different stresses the populations has been through,” she said. “We have had some bad years weather-wise, and there’s a lot (of obstacles) going on.”
Dayna started raising monarchs last year.
“It’s exciting to think that you could take something and track it all the way to Mexico,” she said. “I just want to do something to help their population.”
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