A true story about an amazing butterfly named Manny.
It was a brisk bright morning when Manny the Monarch first broke through his chrysalis and entered this world as a butterfly. Manny like many of his brothers and sisters who had emerged from their clear cases the morning before, took several minutes to crawl out and pump up his still tiny wings. As he hung beneath the empty chrysalis he looked around at the familiar world but he was now very different. I know, I was there protecting him from harm. I raise Monarch butterflies.
During his life as a caterpillar Manny had a voracious appetite for all that was familiar in his little world of the milkweed plant on which he fed, and fed he did...growing 2800 times his original size in just 18 days. The drive to wander off as a mature caterpillar and find a quiet place to change into something new was overwhelming and took him high above the garden to a twig where he suddenly stopped. Motionless, he watched us below tending to our plants and other caterpillars. A full day passed and without warning he shed his familiar white, yellow and blacked striped skin and became a jade green, gold rimmed jewel hanging from a silk pad. Eight days passed. The time spent locked inside this jewel would magically transform Manny from the crawling caterpillar into a majestic butterfly intent on traveling and finding a suitable mate to continue his life cycle.
Finally he was free of his chrysalis. His large brightly colored wings soon dried... off into the air he flew, no more a creature of the ground. He repeatedly landed on our shoulders and seemed to watch our work with much interest. Manny was special, not just larger than most of his siblings but very curious and he followed us until dusk, then he found a perch and rested.
Morning came and again Manny was fluttering around us as we planted our previously collected milkweed seed. As we worked something unexpected happened, some of the silk tufted seeds were carried into the sky by the wind. Manny instantly flew in their direction, caught one bunch and landed on the place we were planting. I was stunned. Could he actually understand what we were doing? Could he be helping? We have had many Monarchs that knew to fly to us so we would feed them nectar and even had one amazing Monarch that repeatedly walked to find me after losing part of its wings so I could restore his flight, 3 times! But never could we imagine a butterfly that understood the importance of planting seeds that would soon feed its young. Manny gathered 3 separate bunches of seeds from the air then joined the other Monarchs as they chased each other around our citrus trees and then he was gone.
I do not know if Manny was some sort of sign after the terrible tragedy in Mexico during January 2002 where 80% of all the Monarchs froze to death (280 Million) but we planted extra Milkweed and butterfly plants in our yard this year, some 300 plants! We created a wonderful web site www.LiveMonarch.org, which gives away free butterfly garden seeds and has excellent information on helping butterflies. Please plant some seeds and share this true story with as many people as you can. Together we can make sure butterflies like Miracle Manny and millions of others are around to visit you in your gardens.