Monarch butterflies used to darken the skies with their migration north and south, but for lots of reasons, they’ve been disappearing.
Oklahoma has been a critical piece of their habitat, and the hope is that it will continue to be.
Some of Oklahoma’s own are doing what they can to make that happen, and Wednesday, in the hopes of making Tulsa a “Monarch City,” 40 butterflies were released into their new home.
The Oxley Nature Center is a place to find peace and where you can get to know the outdoors. It’s also now a home to 40 Monarch butterflies.
“They're beautiful, they're absolutely beautiful,” Sandy Schwinn said.
Schwinn, known better as 'The Butterfly Lady,' is a certified Monarch habitat provider. She's raised and released thousands upon thousands of butterflies over the past 35 years, and the butterflies that were let go Wednesday came from her backyard.
“This release was the third generation of Monarchs that I've raised from my backyard from eggs that I've found there and caterpillars,” she said.
The release, advertised through social media, drew a big crowd as children hovered around the net cages, hoping to get their hands on one of the pretty orange creatures.
“It's always fun to see the kids with the Monarchs and just the, 'Oh it's exciting to hold that little butterfly on my finger and watch it,'” Schwinn said.
Experts said we may have lost 90 percent of the Monarch due to loss of habitat, genetically-modified crops and climate change.
Schwinn said reversing the decline could be easy if everybody did their part to help enhance the habitat.
“We need to safeguard the monarchs because we don't want to lose this treasure,” she said.
Milkweed is the secret weapon; she says if you plant it the Monarchs will come.
“It was humans that created the problem, and it's gonna take humans to fix it,” she said.
And that’s what Schwinn is doing, one butterfly at a time.
“Or maybe 40,” she laughed.
If you like to learn more about raising Monarchs, or maybe just getting them to your backyard, you can learn more here.