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Monarch Metamorphosis

Here at the Schrader Center we get to see a lot of cycles.  The weather cycles of winter, spring, summer and fall bring with them ever-changing environmental events.  We celebrate the signs of spring with our Maple Sugaring event, seize summer with our collection of camps, say aloha to autumn with our annual R.E.A.P. program, and withstand the winter with pre-school day programming and free Saturday Scavenger Hunts.  Currently we are capturing an up-close view of one particular process – the life cycle of a monarch butterfly.

The evolution of a monarch butterfly takes about 30 days in its entirety.  The four-part process starts with an egg, and the relationship between monarchs and milkweed begins.  Depending on the temperature, it can take the egg 3 to 5 days to hatch into the second stage of the monarch’s cycle:  the caterpillar.  Monarch caterpillars constantly consume food (the milkweed plant) and produce frass (caterpillar solid waste) until they shed their exoskeleton, also called their cuticle, four times.  This shedding is once again individual to environment, and this pre-pupation can take 14-18 days.

The third part of the process is the pupa stage.  Also known as “the hanging J,” the caterpillar will spin a silk button to suspend itself,  fastened upside down.  The chrysalis will form and become firm and this “jade green jewel” dangles for about 10 days before a butterfly begins to break through.   The fourth and final factor then forms.

The butterfly emerges but its wings will not expand.  It must push hemolymph, butterfly blood, into its body for another hour or two before the wings will work.  The butterfly will then depart from its former dwelling and fly away.  You can see this entire process at the Schrader Environmental Education Center, as well as view our Monarch Rabble Butterfly Display and Memorial, and explore on your own in our butterfly garden. – By Sara Fincham, Schrader Center Customer Service Representative


Butterflies for Earth Day!

The Schrader Center will host a very special guest for Earth Day activities this year. Ba Rea, author, naturalist and monarch expert will be on-hand to provide interactive “Monarch Magic” presentations.  She brings a wealth of knowledge and information about monarchs as she has been raising and releasing them since 1970 and introducing monarchs to school children and teachers since 1986.

“Monarch butterflies have captured the imaginations of people all over North America. They are used in classrooms to teach science, geography, art, math and writing,” says Ba. “They find their way into fairs, nature centers and public places to help people make connections with the natural world. They are used in hospitals, dialysis clinics, hospice, and Alzheimer clinics to bring us the metaphors in life that we need during major transitions.”

All of her life, Ba Rea has been passionate about the natural world — enjoying, investigating, learning and sharing what she discovers.  These days she lives in the woods on the Knobs over Union, West Virginia. Ba has researched, drawn, photographed and written about many different plants, animals and natural phenomena. Ba’s favorite creatures are monarch butterflies, but praying mantids, toads, American eels, puffins, and whales are all close contenders!

Join us for a day full of monarchs and magic!

Noon – 4p.m.   – Children’s Activities

Noon – 4 p.m.  – Planting in the Butterfly Garden

1 – 4p.m.  – Monarch Magic 

2:30 p.m.  –  Dedication Ceremony for “Monarch Rabble” 

Earth Day Family Celebration at the Schrader Center

Earth Day is a day in early spring each year on which events are held worldwide to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s natural environment. Earth Day is coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and is celebrated in more than 175 countries every year.

The Schrader Center is adding a little Monarch Magic to our Earth Day celebration this year! We’re inviting families and friends to spend Earth Day at the Schrader Center, and we have a ton of activities planned for all age levels.

Activities include children’s stories, crafts and activities with Schrader Center educator Robin Lee and her creative staff, hands-on “Monarch Magic” presentations by author, naturalist and monarch expert Ba Rea, flower and tree plantings and light refreshments. Milkweed and wildflower seed packets will also be given away to participants.  And, all activities are free and open to the public!

  • Noon – 4p.m. Children’s Activities — Join us for a story by children’s author Ba Rea about the life cycle and miraculous migration of the Monarch butterfly. See for yourself how a butterfly’s vision helps it find its food as you try to find your “host” flower, spread some pollen, and taste some nectar. Celebrate the importance of butterflies as pollinators in these hands-on learning activities designed for small folk. Make your own symmetrical Monarch butterfly to take home.
  •  Noon – 4 p.m.  – Planting in the Butterfly Garden– Plant flowers in the Corson Butterfly Garden and trees along the Discovery Trails

  •  1 – 4p.m.- Monarch Magic — Hands-on presentations with author, naturalist and monarch expert Ba Rea.
  •  2:30 p.m. Dedication Ceremony for “Monarch Rabble” — Join us as we dedicate the three-dimensional, suspended installation by artist Erica Loustau that features 2,000 butterflies and is on permanent display in the Schrader Center exhibit hall. The butterflies welcome guests at the door and lead them through the Exhibit Hall to the windows and decks overlooking the Corson Butterfly Garden, bringing the outdoors inside.

Call the Schrader Center at 304-242-6855 for more information. Bring your gloves, a rake and a willingness to dig in to fun at the this year’s Earth Day Celebration at the Schrader Center!