Sixth annual Monarch butterfly event draws 175 from community
It’s been said one-out-of-three bites of food we eat are involved in insect production, through pollination and other processes.
The Monarch butterfly is an instrumental part of that process.
The Monarch butterfly, an essential pollinator of much of the food that is harvested for human consumption, is also celebrated in another way. It teaches kids about the fragility of life, the importance of all living things and at the Ziibiwing Center, 6650 E. Broadway Rd, stimulating the minds of children.
“The Ziibiwing Center is not just for the scholars and historians that come here,” said William Johnson, Ziibiwing Center curator.“The Ziibiwing Center is for young people, too.”
About 175 people came to the sixth-annual event Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. to learn, celebrate and paint the Monarch butterfly.
The event started with the Fancy Shawl Dance, an interpretive dance by young tribe members intended to emulate the life of a butterfly.
Some kids had butterflies and other designs painted on their faces. Some also painted butterflies on tiles or paper.
Michael LeValley, education coordinator at the Isabella Conservation District, said this time of the year is about the time butterflies migrate through mid-Michigan.
This year, the butterfly generation is low compared to last year, most likely because of July rains, LeValley said.
“The rain probably killed a lot of the caterpillars,” he said.
LeValley participates in a University of Kansas study tracking migration patterns of Monarch butterflies. LeValley captures and attaches an adhesive sticker under the aft wing. The small tags contain the identifying information that other participants can use to track the route and timing of the particular butterfly.
LeValley said butterflies move south as far as Mexico and as far north as Manitoba.
Last year, about 12 Monarch butterflies were released during the Monarch Butterfly dance. Since the rain killed off so many caterpillars, LeValley only had two Monarchs on display in the Ziibiwing Center.
Johnson said traditional teachings of the tribe emphasize the belief that all living things have their own place in life, even if it’s seen as small or insignificant.
“The ultimate significance that a Monarch butterfly has to anyone, we believe that the spirit of the creator of all things is in every living thing,” he said. “The underlying current of what’s important is everything has its place under the sun.”
Johnson said the teachings emphasize the respect for people of all colors, animals, plants and so on.
“We’re all cogs in the same machine,” Johnson said.
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