Posted by: cindydyer | May 25, 2012

Butterfly Corner

May 14 —What a day for butterflies! I watched a mother monarch butterfly fluttering low to the ground as she searched for milkweed. She located plants near my kitchen garden. I witnessed the butterfly laying eggs on tiny milkweed plants. When you look closely, you will notice that the butterfly tips her abdomen to the underside of milkweed leaves. More often than not, the air current is less windy close to the ground, making it easier for a butterfly to deposit eggs on tiny milkweed.  This wasn’t the only species of butterflies seen. There were Canada swallowtail, black swallowtail, coppers, fritillary, and Milbert’s tortoiseshell butterflies. Monday’s temperature was a balmy 82 degrees Fahrenheit sunny day—a perfect day for butterflies.

Below: Experience Works referred caretaker Mike Carpenter, Volunteers Joan Quenan and Jim VanMoorleham at Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, WI © Mary Ellen Ryall

May 17 — I was a guest speaker at Mrs. Janie LaFave’s kindergarten class at Shell Lake Elementary School. Children love butterflies. Mrs. LaFave teaches students about monarch biology and the butterfly’s life cycle. One student brought in a deceased monarch to show me. Another student raised his hand and proudly told the class that he had raised a painted lady butterfly at home. I was amazed. He said that he fed the adult butterfly sugar water when it emerged as an adult butterfly. The students have such an interest in nature—be it butterflies, bees, or native plants. We did get a bit off topic when the class wanted to tell me personal bee stories. I found that of interest because bees are suffering a decline. It is wonderful that children are connected to nature and insects. Some day, these very children will be the next generation to protect the natural world.

Below: Mary Ellen Ryall with Mrs. Lafave’s kindergarten class, Shell Lake School, WI © Janie Lafave

Volunteers met at the Visitors Center in Shell Lake. We talked about the Monarch Butterfly Habitat and ways we are working together to bring this rich environmental land-based project forward in the 2012 season. Jim VanMoorleham is going to stain the signs that the Tech Ed. class made at Shell Lake School. Joan Quenan is going to buy some white vinegar to start eradicating invasive spotted knapweed. Yes, it is true—vinegar kills the invasive species; however, it will kill everything around it, too. We are not concerned with killing bird’s foot trefoil in area three along with spotted knapweed. Both plants are replacing native species.

Below: Wild black cherry tree blossoms at Monarch Butterfly Habitat © Mary Ellen Ryall

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat is alive with crickets. We saw hundreds of monarch eggs on milkweed plants. Milkweed has finally taken off and there are milkweed plants throughout the habitat. All things point to a bumper crop of monarchs at the habitat this year. We will be marking plants and putting up a “Journey North” butterfly screened tent to view the life cycle of the butterfly. Visitors will be able to observe monarch butterfly conservation in action this year.

The plan is to replant a weeded area with a layer of wet newspapers and top soil from Bashaw Nursery. Thank you, Steve Degner, for delivering the enriched soil. We are getting ready to plant a Three Sisters Garden as a teaching garden. People will have an opportunity to learn about healthy organic native crops, corn, beans and squash. Native seed means that the seed originated in the Americas. This type of garden allows nitrogen to be added to the soil to replenish good nutrients that corn depletes. The squash is a natural ground cover and holds moisture. Along with this, the group is planning to plant gourds, within the squash family. Hopefully these will produce future gourd houses for the habitat.

Posted by: cindydyer | May 20, 2012

Butterfly Corner

May 8—Northwood School, Minong, WI. I met with Shelby Ausing, parent of students at Northwood School, Josh Tomesh, principal, and Jean Serum, Administrator. The school is implementing a Butterfly Garden on school property. I chose the site based on a gently sloped terrain. The property has native hazelnuts, chokecherry, and Juneberry growing naturally in the background near red pines. The open sandy land is visible from Route 53. The land base is between ½ acre for restoration and up to 1 acre for total habitat. It flanks the school entrance driveway and parking lot. The habitat will be within easy access for students to walk to from grade school and charter school. The habitat will be used as an outdoor classroom.

While walking the site, I pointed out two native wild strawberry colonies—pussy toes, host plant of Painted lady butterfly, and violets, host plant of Fritillary butterfly. Minor invasive spotted knapweed was evident and will need to be eradicated. The area has been mowed, which will be discontinued to allow native habitat to emerge. Happy Tonics will work in liaison with the school. We will advise with conception, landscape design, planning, planting, and maintenance. Northwood School is an average of eight miles, round trip, from my home in Minong.

May 9—JoAnn Flanagan, from Oregon, OH, reports: “Saw several monarchs today down at the state park. Had the binoculars out—biggest week in birding there. People from over 47 states in attendance.”

May 10—Sophie Belisle of Shell Lake called in the first monarch sighting for Shell Lake. She has followed the monarch’s arrival in Shell Lake for two years. She received a jade butterfly ring, metal butterfly book mark, and my book, My Name is Butterfly, as gifts for her participation in this year’s monarch tracking.

Mike Carpenter, a habitat caretaker, had the shrubs weeded and open space was created around them. This will allow them to be visible from Route 63. A layer of wet newspaper and mulch will be added around the shrubs. Residents can use the same technique to kill weeds and allow air to get around shrubs and trees.

May 11—I saw my first male monarch today. He looked like he was in good shape. Milkweed is up in Minong. Mother butterflies don’t need much—only newly emerged milkweed to lay eggs on. Later in the afternoon, I saw a female monarch searching for milkweed. She will tap the leaves and taste the plant with feet to determine if it is truly milkweed.

Mike Jensen, of Lampert Lumber in Spooner, donated building materials for a garden shed, approved by City Council last fall. Happy Tonics, through a grant from Wisconsin Environmental Education, matched 50 percent of the donation. Bob Forsythe, Technical Education Department, and students at Shell Lake School are building the shed. We are thrilled that Mr. Forsythe and students took the project on as community outreach. To learn more about Lampert Lumber Community Giving, visit

Posted by: cindydyer | May 20, 2012

Memories are in the seed

May 19—It was a very warm day at 86 degrees Fahrenheit. High winds appeared to sap the oxygen right out of the air as dust swirled around in small whirlwinds. I needed to plant potatoes that should have been in the ground long ago. The potato spuds had sprouted and needed to be covered by earth. Left: Red potatoes have pink flowers. Photo © Mary Ellen Ryall

I watched the sky all day, wondering when the rains would start. I knew they were coming. My rain barrels needed filling. The transplanted trees and shrubs were bone dry and leaves were wilted.

I saved over-aged russets potatoes with eyes. This year I bought red and yellow starter potatoes to add to the mix. I have been planting a diverse crop of potatoes together for many years. It appears to keep potato beetles away. I have always had a happy and healthy crop. Right: JoAnn Flanagan of Oregon, OH, hand wove this beautiful potato basket. Photo © Mary Ellen Ryall

Last year I was able to use my own potatoes right up to the middle of march. Imagine that! What a thrill not to have to go to the grocery store to buy potatoes for nearly an entire winter. I knew where my potatoes came from. I was enjoying being sustainable and providing for my own food.

I planted a bed of beans that same day. This year I added Kebarika bush shell bean, bought from organic Southern Exposure Seed Exchange in Virginia. The bean species is purple, looking much like scarlet runner. The bean was added to a mix of saved Hidasta—black and white soup beans. I’ll grow those vine beans up on devised bean poles.

After I finished planting potatoes, I started weeding the next bed. Lo and behold, the garlic I planted from seed in 2009 was growing. I thought it had died out last year, but it hadn’t. I dug one up to make sure it truly was the garlic grown from seed. Saved seed do have stories. I remember an older man had come to our seed-saving workshop at Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Ojibwa College’s Wellness Fair at LCO Convention Center. I wish I knew his name. He told me his grandmother had brought garlic seed to America when she immigrated from Poland. He has been growing the garlic ever since. I felt honored that he thought to give Happy Tonics the memory seed. How I wish today I had his telephone number. I could call him up to tell him the continuing seed story from Minong,Wisconsin. Above, left: Here is a sample of potato diversity grown in my garden in 2009. Photo © Mary Ellen Ryall

I realized in 2009 that I had to start writing down people’s names after this experience. How could one carry on the story without a name? Seed is handed down from one person, culture, and tradition to another. It isn’t a story of just the seed, but the people who lovingly tended the seed, making sure the seed was passed to the next generation. Yes, the man was an elder. His story was important even if he didn’t think so.

If you are a seed saver, I hope you will remember to write down the person’s name and pass the story on.

Posted by: cindydyer | May 2, 2012

Butterfly Corner

by Mary Ellen Ryall

First week of April — The National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C., has a Live Butterfly Pavilion. Deneen Stambone and I visited a large outdoor butterfly garden outside the museum. I saw large bumblebees on winter kale flowers. Outdoor signs near plants explain butterfly species life cycle, host, and nectar plants that support them. We missed photographing the famous cherry blossoms this year. Instead, we headed to the Tulip Library display gardens near the Tidal Basin just beyond the Mall. I am working on trying to get book into Natural History Museum gift shop. They have a live butterfly exhibit and a new extended butterfly garden along side the museum. Contact made with assistant area manager of the gift shop. The gift shop manager not available when I was there. I left behind a book and postcard. Visit the National Museum of Natural History at Tulip Library display garden on National Mall near Tidal Basin © Mary Ellen Ryall

Anna Marie Sculpture Garden, Solomons, MD, is near where I last lived. The 30 acre parcel is now home to a Smithsonian supported sculpture garden. The Art Gallery features art loans from the National Gallery of Art and Hirshhorn Museum. I met Caleb Clark, landscaping caretaker. Since 2009, he has been responsible for implementing a large butterfly garden next to the Arts Center. Early violets were in bloom. Violets are host plants of fritillary butterfly. I saw white cabbage butterflies. Clark reported that he had seen sulphur and fritillary butterflies so far. Anna Marie Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian-supported sculpture garden. I spoke with shop owner, Kay, and caretaker Caleb Clark. I also networked with Curator of Public Programs, Jaimie Jeffrey, thanks to Caleb. Check out Website at Kay plans to order books for the gift shop this summer.

I recently received a call from Martha Canfield, Asbury Retirement Community at Martha runs the small gift shop. She will order a few books at wholesale price and stock the book in the limited book section. Dr. Carol Marcy, Joy Lane Healing Center, Hollywood, MD, will be ordering wholesale books for the gift shop.

Several friends, including artist Worth Cooley-Prost, Deneen Stambone, and I visited Green Spring Gardens, Alexandria, VA. Cindy Dyer met us and escorted us through her exhibit, Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio. The photography is vibrant and detailed with pollen and insects on many of the botanical pieces. You can see some images from the collection at I can’t think of a better way to spend time with friends than in the garden. This trip was all about networking with fellow artists who are creating a better world for tomorrow.

My book, My Name is Butterfly, will be offered at gift stores at some of these national sites. While at Green Spring Gardens, I spoke with Sandy Rittenhauser, director. She will place a wholesale order for the gift shop. Visit website at Left: Mary Ellen Ryall, Deneen Stambone and Worth Cooley-Prost stand in front of Cindy Dyer’s exhibit, Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio, which showcased March and April in the Horticulture Center. Photo by Cindy Dyer

I also visited with Holly Shimizu, the Executive Director of the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. Holly asked that I help promote a new national gardening program, “Landscaping for Life.” The goal is to educate homeowners across the country to convert traditional gardening practices to sustainable landscaping. This ties right into what Happy Tonics created in Shell Lake with the Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden. Planting native gardens has the potential to help clean air and water, reduce flooding, cool your town or city, protect pollinators, and combat climate change. Learn more at

In 2012, the U.S. Botanic Garden will feature butterfly gardens that will include host and nectar plants for several species of butterflies. Holly mentioned that butterflies will be released. Holly introduced me to education program specialist, Libby Rhoads. I gave them a book for their library. The Botanic Garden does not have a gift shop. I knew Holly years ago when she was assistant executive director. I wish you could see the outstanding work she is doing at the Botanic Garden. There is a butterfly garden that is expanding into a live exhibit of butterfly releases. Holly and staff have initiated the Landscaping for Life program that will go live in summer 2012. There will be a website to teach people how to garden for pollinators. Photo of Holly Shimizu by Cindy Dyer

April 13 Judy Ricci of Shell Lake, asked, “How are the butterflies doing?” Journey North reports the monarch migration has slowed down. The butterfly seems to be hovering at about Latitude 39th parallel north until warmer days arrive. The migration continued to advance eastward and a wave of first sightings hit Virginia last week. Hopefully, we can expect monarchs in Shell Lake and Washburn County near lilac bloom time, after the cold snap breaks. Buds have not opened yet. Be sure to call in your first monarch butterfly sighting into Happy Tonics for a free gift (715) 466-5349. We in turn report sightings to Journey North and Monarch Larva Project, University of Minnesota.

April 13 — Shell Lake Tech Ed Department created three signs from red pine trees that fell from the storm on July 1, 2011. Rod Wilcox, a saw mill owner in Minong, was gracious enough to donate wood and cut them to specification. Each sign has laser lettering and a monarch butterfly logo. They are natural looking and unique. I can hardly wait for the signs, Three Sisters Garden and Making a Difference for Pollinators, to be placed along the pathway at the habitat. Another sign, Happy Tonics, is going to LCO tribal farm for a medicinal herbs and native crop garden that Sandy Stein, Secretary, manages. Special thanks to teacher Bob Forsythe and the students who made the sign project possible.

April 18 — Minong Conference at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College from 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Pat Shields, Happy Tonics board member, initiated the conference. Representatives from Bad River Reservation, Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation, and Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, are speakers. Sid Keller, WOJB, is monitor of the conference. The conference will explore “Impacts of the Mining Proposal on Great Lakes Treaty Rights and Harvesting.” The conference will focus on legal, social-economic, environmental, and culture impacts on tribes.

April 25 — 4th Annual Sustainable Living Fair at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Happy Tonics will exhibit Pollinator Corridors and Butterfly Gardens across the USA. Keynote speaker: Dianne Jourdan, Oneida Nation, will discuss her experiences with tribal school gardening, composting, and recycling programs.

April 28 — 5th Annual Earth Day Event, in Shell Lake, at 1 p.m. Meet at Monarch Butterfly Habitat pergola for a Native American Ceremony. This year we will honor donors both living and deceased who made the Monarch Butterfly Habitat possible. Community will have the opportunity to put down cement feet in the path donated by Shell Lake Public Library and lay fundraiser memory brick pavers around the wild black cherry tree in the Memory Tree Grove. Pot luck follows at the Visitors Center/Store at 25 Fifth Avenue. Bring a dish to share. Community meeting follows, an informal meal, to discuss ways that citizens can participate in the nonprofit and help Happy Tonics grow into the future. The nonprofit needs new leadership. Mary Ellen Ryall will be retiring as Executive Director at the end of 2012.

Star Tribune provided the answer to how the butterfly is doing in a recent article, “Study ties GMO corn and soybean to butterfly losses,” by Josephine Marcotty. Karen Oberhauser, article. You can read the full story at Monarchs in the Classroom, Monarch Larva Project, University of Minnesota, and John Pleasants, a monarch researcher from Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, did the research behind the story.


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.

Posted by: cindydyer | March 25, 2012

Butterfly Corner

by Mary Ellen Ryall

MARCH 8, 2012—Estela Romero, local reporter in Angangueo, Michoacan, Mexico, went to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary with monarch expert, Dr. Lincoln Brower from Sweet Briar College, Virginia. Estela has been watching the monarchs for weeks and thinks they are more active. She saw many butterflies flitting about instead of hibernating on trees. The scientist and his guide went to Chincua sanctuary. Further up the mountain, last year’s flood and mud slide damage could be seen.

Dr. Brower expressed his concern about how dry the Mexican forest is this year. In winter 2010, Monarch butterfly populations endured a terrible flood in the mountains where the sanctuary is located. This year, the soil is baked dry and unstable because there are fewer trees to stabilize the mountains. It is so dry that Dr. Brower is concerned that the butterflies may not have sufficient moisture, which they use for respiration. Last fall Texas suffered a terrible drought. The state suffered massive fires. Texas is the gateway to and from Mexico for the butterfly. Lack of liquid and plant nectar in Texas may play a major role on the monarch butterfly migration 2012. Monarch butterfly on ‘Zowie’ Zinnia © Cindy Dyer

Dr. Brower is concerned that now the monarchs may not have enough lipids to make the journey north this spring. Yes, many will make it, but what about the majority of the migration? Deforestation continues in Mexico. There are fewer Oyamel fir trees in the Mexican forest. Fewer trees mean fewer winter habitat for the monarch butterfly. The butterfly has been around since the time of the dinosaurs. How could a butterfly, which has survived throughout history, be so impacted by our material world and climate change in such a short time? We will follow the migration north to keep you posted.

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake has some good news. Volunteer staff discovered that black swallowtail caterpillars and adult butterflies were seen in Shall Lake, in the summer of 2011. With this news, Happy Tonics plans to include host plants for the butterfly. We want to welcome this species to the habitat.

MARCH 24—I did an author interview with Morgen Bailey of Northhampton, United Kingdom. The interview will go live on March 24. Morgan interviews published authors and publishers. My book, My Name is Butterfly, was published by Salt of the Earth Press in 2011. The in-depth interview will be posted at You can purchase the book through Amazon here.

I am thrilled to have my book talked about in England and beyond the big waters. Happy Tonics has published butterfly articles in the UK in the Butterfly Observer, published by the Cornwall Butterfly Conservation.

MARCH 29—I will be in Washington, D.C. during the first week in April. While there, I will attend Cindy Dyer’s one woman photography exhibit at Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, VA. Cindy is VP of Marketing for Happy Tonics. Check out her exquisite botanical photography at or and visit her blog at

I am doing a book tour in Washington, D.C., Southern Maryland in Calvert and St. Mary’s County, and in Northern Virginia. I have been invited to speak at Meet the Author events. It will be good to see my old stomping grounds again.

Posted by: cindydyer | February 15, 2012

The beauty of pollination

From TED:

Posted by: cindydyer | February 12, 2012

Butterfly Corner

by Mary Ellen Ryall

News from Xerces Society
In 2010, with support from the Monarch Joint Venture and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant, Xerces Society initiated a multi-state project to increase the availability of milkweed seed for large-scale restoration efforts in California, Nevada, Arizona, New México, Texas and Florida. Xerces is working with native seed producers and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Plant Material Program to increase the production of local ecotype native milkweed seed.” The reason for the collaborative milkweed seed project is because pollinators, including the monarch butterfly, are besieged with a threatened migration phenomenon. Above: Monarch Butterfly on ‘Zowie’ Zinnia, photo by Cindy Dyer

Prior to Xerces Society milkweed initiative, Happy Tonics has been selling common milkweed seed since 1999. Milkweed is the only host plant of the monarch butterfly. The seed is offered in the Visitors Center and Store in downtown Shell Lake. The store reopens on Memorial Day Weekend. Out of season, milkweed seed is sold online through eBay. Several seed buyers from around the country are now donors of Happy Tonics nonprofit public charity. Some buyers have gone on to build butterfly gardens at schools and monarch butterfly habitats on their own property. It is good to know that monarch butterfly conservation is an ongoing environmental education act that brings positive results to help the monarch butterfly.

Garden Muse Photography Exhibit
Cindy Dyer, VP Marketing, Happy Tonics, will have a one woman art show at the Horticulture Center, Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, Virginia. The exhibit, “Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio,” will run February 28 – April 29, 2012.

For a sneak preview of Cindy’s extraordinary floral and insect photography, visit Her garden photography was featured on Nikon’s website, along with an interview, in August 2011. Here is a link to their site featuring Cindy’s garden photography tips at

In summer 2011, Cindy photographed butterflies and native plants while visiting the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. We are working on a Field Guide for the Monarch Butterfly Habitat. The publication will highlight the symbiotic relationship between native plants and pollinators including the monarch butterfly, birds and small animals.

Posted by: cindydyer | January 23, 2012

Volunteerism and donations support a nonprofit

by Mary Ellen Ryall

Volunteer Wisconsin is a new state initiative to promote and support volunteerism. As collaboration between the Volunteer Center Association of Wisconsin, the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee, Volunteer Center of Washington County, Serve Wisconsin and funded by a Volunteer Generation Fund grant through the Corporation for National and Community Service, Volunteer Wisconsin is the central point for volunteerism and service in the state.

Happy Tonics, Inc. is the first nonprofit in Northwest Wisconsin, Washburn County, to join the organization on January 10, 2012. Volunteer Wisconsin encourages other nonprofit organizations to join. To find out more visit  The nonprofit needs a stronger voice to recruit volunteers to the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in season. It is hoped that Volunteer Wisconsin will bring in some new environmental and gardening volunteers.

Lorrie Blockus is planning a Yoga class by donation in January for the Monarch Butterfly Habitat. It is scheduled for Saturday, January 28 at 9:30 a.m. This will be a Yin Yoga class, entitled “The Butterfly Effect,” that will be very gentle and incorporate long holds to work joints and energy lines instead of muscles. Great for sore joints and sluggish bodies in the winter (which is a complete Yin season). Yin Yoga takes us deep inside ourselves to be with our thoughts and emotions and physical discomforts as a means of freeing blocked energies, lubricating the joints, and creating positive change within ourselves as a catalyst for positive change for the world. This will take place at the Om Sweet Om Yoga studio at 32 5th Avenue, downtown, Shell Lake (LifeCircle Building). Everyone is welcome to learn with Lorrie and to help a nonprofit at the same time.

Posted by: cindydyer | January 8, 2012

Butterfly Corner

by Mary Ellen Ryall

Photo © Erin Pryor Pavlica

January 3, 2012—I received an e-mail asking for help. A Black Swallowtail butterfly was born in a home in Saint Paul, MN. I could hardly believe it. How was this possible? Erin Pryor Pavlica needed to know what nectar sources to offer the butterfly. The butterfly formed a chrysalis in November and Erin brought it inside. The butterfly emerged on January 3. Normally butterflies don’t need nectar for 24-48 hours after they emerge. I suggested she try sweet fruit such as an orange and sugar water. Butterflies taste with their feet. The next day, Erin reported that the butterfly did not taste the orange. She was going to try sugar water next.

Erin posted her story on Facebook. Many people around the country answered with suggestions and some had tried similar nectar for butterflies born out of season in their own homes. All agreed that it would be impossible to move the butterfly. There is an average of 560 species of swallowtails. Many are brilliant and live in the tropics. The Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake is home to the yellow Canadian Tiger swallowtail in season. Normally the butterfly overwinters outside in the pupal stage. Some swallowtails may spend more than a year like this. I imagine that the home, being heated, was too warm and triggered a different response. Perhaps this is why the butterfly emerged in winter. Surely the butterfly was out of its natural life cycle and habitat.

The Black Swallowtail is thriving. The butterfly has enjoyed sipping from a rotten old apple and an aged squashed banana. On Saturday, Erin said, “Yes, I have several cotton pads with sugar solution soaked into them. I put fresh solution out several times a day. The butterfly is usually active after eating!”

I would like to mention that Erin had a baby girl, Quinn Mae, on New Year’s Eve. She is thrilled that the Black Swallowtail butterfly arrived within days of the child’s birth. I invited the family to visit Shell Lake next summer. I look forward to celebrating the butterfly baby at the Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden. Quinn Mae won’t be the first butterfly baby to be remembered at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat.

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