Long Island Woman Raises Thousands Of Majestic Monarch Butterflies, Prepares Them For An Epic Flight


One of the joys of the season is the stunning sight of a monarch butterfly. One Long Island woman doesn’t have to go far to catch a glimpse of their awe-inspiring bright colors. She’s raising them in her own house and then sharing the joy with her community, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday.

Hatching in a suburban Long Island home is one of the most majestic of winged creatures. Monarch butterflies, thousands of them, are being nurtured by Tanya Clusener, who with no experience decided to study their incredible journey.

Soon, an extra room was bursting with every stage of their month-long transformation from the tiny eggs she finds on the back of milkweed leaves to minuscule caterpillars and then, days later, chubby and hungry and shimmying out of their skin.

“I get all of the food for these guys from off a roadside, off of a public highway,” Clusener said. Clusener then showed Gusoff a transformation in action.

“Oh, this guy is just coming out right now, like the Hulk. It’s going to bust out of the skin,” Clusener said.

The jewel-like chrysalis, she describes as a sleeping bag, is home for less than two weeks.

And then like a proud mama, the citizen scientist delights in her offspring.

“It brings people so much joy, when they finally come out it makes people so happy. People are like ‘Ohhhh.’ Children of all ages just light up,” Clusener said.

She shares the joy when she releases them outdoors, tagged and ready for an incredible trip. “This is a bigger generation than its parents. It’s probably like 20-30% bigger,” Clusener said, adding when asked why, “It’s gotta fly to Mexico.”

That’s right, Mexico, a 3,000-mile journey to the same place. It’s one of nature’s impressive feats.

They can use all the help they can get. The monarch butterfly population has dropped precipitously in recent years — another 50% just this year. Scientists blame climate change and habitat loss. Clusener is just hoping to inspire people to appreciate something fragile and magical.

“I think it makes people relax. It soothes them and makes them happy,” she said. “All kids know the caterpillar is going to turn into the butterfly and the kid inside of all adult sees that and thinks about their own potential.

“It’s so ethereal. It’s sort of dream-like. I think that’s what it does. It transports people into a little bit of a different world than the one we are in, someplace more magical,” she added.

Clusener is bringing beauty and delight to a world that can surely use it right now.




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