Posted by: cindydyer | March 25, 2012

Butterfly Corner

by Mary Ellen Ryall

MARCH 12—Marlene Darmanin, from Sydney, Australia, spearheaded a project to donate books to start a school library on the remote island of Viwa Island, Fiji. Marlene and her husband visited the island in 2011. Marlene explained that they traveled by two boats to get to Viwa.

In March 2012 she made a request via an Internet writers group. A Google search documented that monarch butterflies do indeed live on Fiji.

I mailed Marlene a copy of my book, My Name is Butterfly. It is known that monarchs often land on ship when they are far from land. Most likely a passing ship made it possible for the monarch to take up residence on Fiji. Above: Marlene Darmanin of Sydney, Australia

MARCH 14—According to Journey North, “Here they come! Monarchs are leaving their overwintering sites and appearing on the breeding grounds to the north. According to our observers, they may already have spread more than 1,000 miles northward. During spring migration, female monarchs leave a trail of eggs behind as they travel.”

MARCH 17—The Spooner Garden Club and the Spooner Agriculture Research Station sponsored the Eighth Annual New Ventures Garden Seminar at Northwood School in Minong. Over 240 gardening enthusiasts attended the all-day seminar.

Cassie Thompson (at right) from Northwood School and Dakota Robinson from Shell Lake School assisted Happy Tonics with displays. Cassie is the model for my book, My Name is Butterfly. She participates in High School Forensic Class. Cassie is a public speaker, winning a state award in 2008 for the environmental talk, Trumpeter Swan. She is honing up on her skill to hopefully compete at state level. The next competition is March 29 in Spooner. This will be the deciding event. Dakota brought a petition to stop mowing during migration. She worked on the environmental project to earn a Silver Badge, which she won in 2011. Over 30 people signed the petition at the event. Three individuals at the event told me they had seen monarch butterflies, in Hayward, Ashland, and Superior. How can this be? The milkweed isn’t even up yet! Below: Dakota Robinson with Monarch Migration Storyboard and Petition. Photo by Mary Ellen Ryall

MARCH 18—I saw a Milbert’s tortoiseshell butterfly. Perhaps the ladies at the seminar mistook the tortoiseshell? Tortoiseshell butterflies overwinter and could fly about on a 70 degree F. day. Monarchs do not overwinter. I didn’t notice the tortoiseshell’s front wings with color. I only saw the dark body tones with orange outer wings on hind wings as it flitted by. Is climate change impacting the timing of migration?

The unusually warm weather in March is triggering migrating birds back to our area. Some male robins arrived last week. This week I saw more males setting up display areas. This is their way of inviting females to choose a partner. Butterfly news was reported to Mike Reese, Wisconsin Butterflies Organization at My listing is posted on the link.

MARCH 23—The 2nd Annual NW WI Regional Food Summit will be held from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, in the auditorium and outside. Happy Tonics will be exhibiting and selling saved seeds such as acorn, butternut, Lakota winter squash seed and common milkweed seed. My book, My Name is Butterfly, will also be offered for sale. Break-out sessions: Farmer, Buyer, and Coop Perspectives and Entering the Local Food Arena for Community Members—Why, Where, and How. Keynote Speaker: John Peck, Family Farm Defenders. Topic: Food Sovereignty

According to Dr. Lincoln Brower, Monsanto’s Roundup garden pesticide and Roundup Ready Crops, such as GMO corn and soy, contain glyphosate. The impact of glyphosate has been linked to environmental and pollinator decline including monarch butterfly. Roundup Ready crops are planted most frequently in the Midwest. Mexico, the mother country of corn, has also switched over to Roundup Ready crops and GMO corn seed.

It has been documented that the 17 year decline in butterfly population is directly related to Roundup Ready pesticide and GMO crops that have the pesticide in their DNA. Mind you, this is not the only cause of monarch butterfly decline. Development and roadside cutting during migration and lack of the native host plant, specifically milkweed, also play a big role in monarch decline. Source: Insect Conservation and Diversity, March 2011.



  1. Dear Mary Ellen,
    ‘Your story book is divine little story book about the magical Monarch Butterfly.
    The book is beautifully illustrated throughout and is suitable for any age group, no matter whether you are young or mature.
    Any person who has an appreciation for nature should do themselves a favour and give this delightful book as a gift to someone.
    I absolutely love your book!
    Kind regards
    Michele Darmanin
    Sydney Australia

  2. Sorry Mary Ellen forgot to mention you spelt my name wrong, it should read Michele not Marlene Darmanin of Sydney, Australia

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