Friends of Smith Mountain Lake State Park
Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Monarch Butterfly Larvae Successfully Reared at SML State Park 

Twice a year the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has a stewardship program to help citizens with projects that enhance and conserve Virginia’s natural and cultural resources.  This year there is particular focus on public awareness of the drastic decline of monarch butterfly populations.  “My job is to educate both children and adults so they can better understand why the monarch butterfly populations have declined and what they can do to alleviate the problem,” said Jet Lawler, SML State Park Interpreter.  “To be able to show the public the various stages a butterfly goes through from the 5 stages of larvae growth to pupa or chrysalis stage to the emergence of the adult butterfly is a great educational tool” she said.

Towards that goal, Lawler had shipped 4 monarch butterfly larvae to be reared at the park as an experiment to see what problem she would encounter.  “Only three larvae arrived alive but two were able to make it to the adult butterfly stage,” she said.  Lawler plans to order more larvae next spring and conduct educational programs about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and the dangers it encounters.  She wants visitors to watch the monarch larvae grow and witness the caterpillar transform into a beautiful jade green chrysalis and later emerge as a butterfly.

“We are very fortunate to have milk weed in our butterfly garden at the Discovery Center for the monarch butterfly to lay its eggs and feed on because it is necessary for their survival,” she said.

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