Monarch butterfly populations are declining at an alarming rate. Citizen scientist Robyn Elman of Queens, New York, is working furiously to combat this decline. Throughout the warmer months, Robyn rises at dawn every day to tend to dozens of monarch eggs and caterpillars she has rescued from local sites where their only food source, milkweed, is frequently mowed down. Each morning she checks progress, then heads out to release newly emerged butterflies and retrieve fresh milkweed to feed her fast-growing brood. Sharing engaging and educational stories with her 24,000+ Instagram following and program of “Monarch Mentors”, Elman is inspiring others to join in the conservation of these charismatic pollinators. This story explores Elman’s grassroots conservation movement that both saves individual butterflies, and ignites widespread enthusiasm for restoring this faltering species, one salvaged egg at a time.
In a median strip between a busy offramp and fast-moving parkway, Robyn searches for monarch eggs while gathering milkweed to feed her fast-growing brood. She does this each day, fighting time before city mowers return to level one of the few patches that remain.
More than a dozen eggs found in one small patch of milkweed, salvaged from the blades of city mowers.
Robyn crouches in her backyard, butterfly house, tending to monarchs in all stages of development, cleaning waste and providing fresh milkweed which is needed every day.
Robyn lovingly tends to each individual monarch, giving every one a fighting chance at survival.
Monarchs frequently emerge by the dozen each day during the warmer months of summer. This is a peek into just one of the many monarch enclosures housed in Robyn’s backyard.
Once they emerge, Robyn releases the butterflies in a protected wildflower patch, allowing them to carry out their winged lives, wild and free.