Wings and a Prayer - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

Wings and a Prayer

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA 21) -

Michoacan, Mexico, winter quarters of one of the most stunning creatures on earth. Every year millions of Monarch butterflies migrate to this spot from all over North America making a journey thousands of miles they've never made before, to a corner of earth they've never seen. Jeff Ormiston is on the hunt at Fort Wayne's Fox Island Park. Ormiston's the naturalist at the parks nature center. He's combing prairie milkweed plants for Monarch butterfly eggs. Monarchs only lay eggs on milkweed plants and only eat milkweed leaves, one of the reasons the species is in danger of extinction.

“Everyday I have to come in here and deal with them and you get attached to them,” Ormiston says, “so it's like raising kids.”

Ormiston is incubating and hatching hundreds of Monarchs in the nature center's butterfly room. The creatures hatch from the tiny eggs Jeff collects, emerging as tiny caterpillars...that's the little guy there...and grow to be big caterpillars. At the right time they spin a pod around themselves called a chrysalis and weeks later emerge as adult Monarchs. Ormiston is part of a national effort called Monarch Watch, thousands of volunteers around the country planting milkweed, raising Monarchs from eggs and tagging each animal with a sticker that records where the animal was found and assigning it a unique identification number. The tags help monarch watch monitor migration and keep track of populations.

“Everybody's interested in Monarchs that's why we do, to increase that population so we can see Monarchs flying around in the air like we used to when I was a kid. 'Is this satisfying work?' we ask. “Oh, tremendously. Anytime you can contact nature on this kind of an intimate basis it's great. As long as I can keep doing this I'm adding to the general population in the United States. That's why we all do this.”

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