On June 17th the DMACC library welcomed two temporary residents in its space. The Boone DMACC Social Justice Club (SJC) received a boom of attendance in its Monarch Way-station when two fat caterpillars were discovered. Christine Whitney, DMACC head librarian and SJC adviser, brought them to a butterfly enclosure in the library to be protected from wasps and other predators as they turn into a chrysalis and ultimately into a butterfly.
Amy Prochaska, co-adviser of SJC, said this was an important part of the process.
“Our two caterpillars were found on the clover ground cover by the milkweed during the heat of the day.” she said. “Caterpillars need cover to hide from a variety of predators which includes wasps and to keep cool.”
The Monarch Way-station has proved a success in helping cultivate the monarch population in these beginning steps. The way-station hosts many plants, from Iowa-native flowers, to milkweed and more. While some may complain about the “weeds” having these kinds of plants, such as the Creeping Charlie and clover, gives the Monarch caterpillars their food source and protection.
“We bring any eggs or hatched caterpillars we find on the milkweed into the library, where we keep the caterpillars safe in a special habitat,” said Whitney. “Everyone in the library loves observing their metamorphosis, and each one feels like a library pet!”
Whitney and Prochaska agreed that pets need a name.
“Our current residents are named York and Lancaster, after the Wars of the Roses,” said Whitney. “When we first brought them in they got a little confrontational. Did you know caterpillars fight? We sure didn’t!”
Sadly, these were not the first caterpillars this year. Prochaska had harvested an egg that grew quickly into a caterpillar.
“One of our caterpillars died due to pesticides,” said Prochaska. “It liquified and had to be euthanized by putting it in the freezer.”
If you want to see SJC’s work yourself, come to the Monarch way-station, located outside on the west side of the building. And stop by to meet York and Lancaster in the Boone DMACC library.