Virginia Lee with crocheted butterflies
Eileen Beattie artwork
Eileen Beattie with released monarch
It’s monarch butterfly season, and things are really fluttering around Morning Pointe of Hixson.
The assisted living and memory care community has taken on a special project – to raise monarch
butterflies and offer a safe waystation for the insects on their migration.
Samantha Parker, community relations director, inspired and oversees the project at the center, which has grown from just a fun pastime for residents and associates to being listed on the National Monarch Registry as a Monarch Waystation.
“The residents have really taken this on,” said Ms. Parker. “It’s been a very successful season for us.”
Ms. Parker used to live in Coconut Creek, Fl., the butterfly capital of the world, and had taken it up as a family project to try to raise and shelter monarch butterflies. When she started her job at Morning Pointe of Hixson, she took a look at one of the courtyards and recognized a perfect environment for the butterflies – sheltered from wind and predators, with a water feature and room for butterfly-friendly plants.
“I brought some of my butterflies in one time and the residents went crazy,” Ms. Parker said.
The team at the community prepared the courtyard, planting milkweed, monarch’s only food.
Ms. Parker works with the University of Kansas’s Monarch Watch to get the monarch eggs shipped to the Hixson community, and she has stations set up for the eggs to hatch, the caterpillars to grow and the chrysalises to prepare for butterfly hatching.
There is always a lot of excitement throughout the community whenever butterflies emerge. Then they are released into the courtyard.
“It’s full cycle,” Ms. Parker said.
“It’s amazing to watch how they develop from a tiny egg to a caterpillar, then to see how they transform their bodies and become a chrysalis and hang for two weeks (with no food) to emerge as a beautiful butterfly,” said resident Dot Hilliard. “It is truly a miracle.”
So far, Morning Pointe of Hixson has raised and released more than 50 caterpillars from Monarch Watch.
Perhaps even more impressive, the community has rescued more than 90 caterpillars found in the
Several residents have even embraced the monarch project in a special way. Eileen Beattie created a beautiful butterfly artwork that the community is using, and Virginia Lee has crocheted more than 65 monarchs to give away as gifts.
The next group of butterflies should be emerging from the chrysalis stage by Friday, and the
community has planned a release party for that day. Call Ms. Parker at 423-847-1370 for a time