MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Every year, millions of Monarch butterflies migrate from the upper Midwest to Mexico. But, scientists say their numbers are declining because of development and pesticides.
A Minneapolis woman is doing her part to help their population bounce back. Mary Welch has been a fan of Monarch butterflies all her life. Now, she's gone from admiring their grace and beauty to raising them.
"They remind me of angels," said Welch. "They're just beautiful and they are just gorgeous. I just love them."
Welch started growing her own Monarchs in a tent in her backyard, seven years ago when she worked at a butterfly farm. Now, a couple of times each summer, she gathers Monarch eggs from milkweed plants in the Como neighborhood and nurtures them for a couple of weeks as they complete their metamorphosis into full-fledged butterflies.
"I do it because I know there is a decline of monarch butterflies. I know there is a decline in milkweed. The monarch butterfly is struggling right now and we need to give them a little hand."
Once they are ready to spread their wings, Welch releases the Monarchs into nature, but even after such a short time, Welch says letting them go is always an emotional experience.
"It's like seeing your kids go off to college, it's kind of like that. It's awesome but sad at the same time. You want to keep them all safe, but you know they have got to go on."
The Butterfly Lady, as her neighbors call her, says the thousands of Monarchs she's raised over the years are a small contribution to the insect's overall population.
But, doing her part to help Mother Nature makes her spirit soar. "It's an awesome thing. I love doing it. I'll do it ‘til I die."