Local publishes guide to raising monarch butterflies
The family-friendly story combines “an enchanting story of a caterpillar named Little Stripe growing into a butterfly with simple, step-by-step instructions on how to identify, care for, and raise a monarch,” according to Austin Macauley Publishers.
Kaatz divides her time between her home on the prairie in Sioux Falls, SD, and her lake cabin near Park Rapids.
“I love gardening anyway, and I find gardens everywhere,” she said, attributing her passion to growing up in the farming community of Ortonville, Minnesota. As a child, she raised caterpillars.
At her house in Sioux Falls, her neighbors came to admire her garden “because I would be outside all the time”. They noticed their monarch caterpillars in a glass.
“You would say, ‘What is that?’ and I started talking to them about it, ”she recalled.
Kaatz gave quick and easy tips to those who wanted to raise their own monarchs. “But they forgot a step and weren’t doing very well, so I started writing down steps. I thought, “There must be some kind of book or pamphlet about it,” and there wasn’t. “
Kaatz decided to combine a fictional story with instructions on caring for monarchs – from eggs to butterflies.
“It really is a family book because it has steps people have never heard of,” Kaatz said. For example, the first generation only lives a few weeks, but the last generation emigrates to Mexico.
Kaatz described her book as a “toolkit” and said: “It is aimed at every age group and tells a story and informs about the specifics of planting gardens, milkweed and the wonder of the monarchs.”
She breeds several generations of monarchs every summer, starting in May when she collects the eggs or a caterpillar from her garden where she grows milkweed. “It’s a hobby that lasts all summer,” said Kaatz. “It’s a very cheap hobby.”
All it takes is a glass and a net.
When Kaatz returns to Minnesota, she brings her glasses with aspiring monarchs. “You will be in a doll, you still need milkweed,” she said, adding, “My husband is pretty patient with it.” There are often four clinking, rattling glasses during the six-hour drive.
Kaatz worked on the book over the course of several summers. It was released in January 2021. She said she “refined my approaches, read the research, talked to experts, and created the book. It’s a lucky product of all of this, coupled with the adorable story of the book’s star, a butterfly called Little Stripe. “
She hopes state and national parks, schools, boy scouts, 4-H clubs, and others will use the book.
Experts are encouraging starting gardens and creating flyways to support butterflies, Kaatz said. “It is considered valuable to take some monarchs out of their natural environment in order to teach people to love nature and to connect them to the natural world,” she said. “In the book, we talk about the idea of saving the world in small steps, and you can start in your own garden. I love that.”
“Raising Little Stripe” is available at www.austinmacauley.com. Ben Franklin at Park Rapids also carries the book. For large quantities and a volume discount, Kaatz recommends contacting the publisher directly at 646-512-5767 or [email protected]