Program Profiles Covenanter’s Passion for Butterflies

Post a Comment » Written on August 27th, 2009     
Filed under: News
WILMETTE, IL (August 27, 2009) – Dan Gingrich is a Grammy Award-winning French horn player with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but Chicago Tonight, a leading news program, profiled him Tuesday for an entirely different reason – he is passionate about helping Monarch butterflies get a start on life.

ButterflyGingrich, a member of Winnetka Covenant Church, collects the eggs from milkweed plants in his backyard. He then places them in a succession of yogurt and plastic cups as the caterpillars hatch, grow, spin their chrysalis, and re-emerge as butterflies.

Neighbors help Gingrich to harvest the eggs from the milkweed plants. After the caterpillars hatch, Gingrich says, “They will increase their body mass by a factor of over 3,000 in two weeks’ time.”

The overall number of Monarchs has declined dramatically due to various factors, especially urban expansion, scientists say. Gingrich brings the Monarchs inside because the survival rate in nature is “abysmal,” he explains, adding, “When we bring them inside, our success rate is very, very high. We like to think we’re doing them a favor.”

When the butterflies are ready to fly, he releases them, but he tags them first so that they can be identified if found later as they migrate. The tags are supplied by an organization called Monarch Watch.

One of the butterflies hatched in Gingrich’s home was found in Mexico.

To watch the episode, click here.

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