‘Anyone Can Help a Pollinator’: Butterfly Release at Childe Hassam Park

Members of the Friends of Childe Hassam Park held the first of what might be many Monarch butterfly release events last Friday, putting out 13 Monarch butterflies into the well-manicured South End park on Aug. 13.

Elizabeth Bertolozzi, of the Friends, led the effort on Friday, and had a presentation explaining how the Monarchs go from egg, to caterpillar, to cocoon (known as a Chrysalis) to butterfly.

“It takes 30 days from egg to butterfly which is really extraordinary,” said Bertolozzi. “They are eating machines for about two weeks when they’re caterpillars. They are very active the first week and then the second week they eat an entire leaf as soon as you give it to them. They go into the cocoon and it takes about seven to 10 days for them to emerge. That process takes about 30 minutes.”

The program run by Bertolozzi, which she has also done in the Fenway for many years, is a call for neighbors and friends to help the pollinators like Monarchs. She also said one can help by not using pesticides and herbicides, even those deemed “safe.”

“Even if you have a very small space, like many do in our urban environment, You can still help pollinators, whether it’s bees or butterflies,” she said. “Not using pesticides or herbicides is big because there are many pesticides and herbicides that are supposed to be safe. If it kills a caterpillar or bug, it will also kill a butterfly. It’s really a myth that some people think some pesticides and herbicides are safe…Bugs are a sign of a healthy ecosystem. The message is you can help butterflies too. It’s not that difficult.”

The 13 Monarchs released on Friday, she said, will probably travel north and then migrate south to Mexico over five generations of the process.

“Some of these are going to be migrators,” she said. “You don’t know for sure, but some do have a size difference out of the Chrysalis and they are stronger and usually the ones to migrate.”

Friends member Rick Minot said they are always looking to add artistic programs to the Park, and also things like the butterfly releases.

“What makes things unique is when you have something like this happening in the Park,” he said. “We try to keep it exciting. It’s one of the only parks in the South End now dedicated to an artist so we also try to keep it full of art.”

Bertolozzi said she wanted to thank Patty Gannon of Greystone Café for saving the milk jugs that help get the butterfly process started.

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