Several schools have become home to butterflies and caterpillars, learning about the metamorphosis that takes place within the insects.
Nine classes at Red Mill Elementary School have been fortunate to take care of several interesting caterpillars, including Monarch, Black Swallowtail, Giant Leopard, Apple Sphinx, Variegated Fritillary and Spicebush caterpillars.
In addition, students at Glenwood Elementary recently released Black Swallowtail butterflies they had raised since caterpillars. During this process, students learned about the life cycles of the butterfly.
However, caring for butterflies has an important mission as well. Just ask the staff and students at Virginia Beach Middle School.
The school has been made an official Monarch Waystation, which means the school provides resources (such as milkweeds and flowers, for nectar) for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration from the United States and Canada to overwintering areas in Mexico and California. There, they wait out the winter until conditions favor a return flight in the spring.
Without milkweeds available in the spring and summer breeding areas, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall. Similarly, without nectar from flowers, these fall migratory monarch butterflies would be unable to make their long journey to overwintering grounds in Mexico.
In serving as a waystation, VBMS students and staff are contributing to monarch conservation, an effort that will help assure the preservation of the species and the continuation of the spectacular monarch migration phenomenon.