Linda Auld, aka The "Bug Lady," will give a presentation titled “Help Bring Back the Monarchs” this Saturday at the Lafayette Science Museum as the first part of insect-centric Bug Talk series.
Auld has worked with butterflies for almost 40 years and has raised more than 100 different species of butterflies and moths. Auld is currently organizing a campaign called Help Bring Back the Monarchs, which is part of a larger movement across the country that seeks to address the declining number of wild monarch populations.
“We’re on a crusade to save a bug, basically, but it’s not just any bug, it’s our national insect; we must protect this bug,” says Auld, who owns a pest control supply store in New Orleans called Barber Laboratories.
During the presentation, Auld will cover general information on Monarch butterflies including their life cycle, their recent decline, what is being done across Louisiana to help them and what the audience can do to help here. Auld will also talk about other native butterfly species, gardening for butterflies and other key points from her previous campaign called Project Monarch.
Auld will also be handing out on a first come-first served basis to audience members free Passalong Seed Packs that contain seeds of Scarlet Milkweed, which is an essential nutrient for Monarch butterflies. These Passalong Packs contain three single packs of 20 seeds, with 60 seeds in total. The purpose behind this is to encourage those with the packs to plant the 20 seeds in one pack and then pass the other two seed packs along to someone else in order to grow the number of native Milkweeds plants in Louisiana, which Auld says is dangerously low.
“In the spring of 2014, I heard that we might lose the Monarch migration,” says Auld. “I decided that I wanted to do something about it, so I went online to order some seeds and realized that Louisiana was the only one that didn’t have a milkweed seed distributor. We sell plants, but we don’t sell seeds.”
Auld says that is when she decided to launch her campaign to help save the Monarch.
“I bought a pound of seed and I devised a label and packaging and I got 10 of the local garden centers to sell my seeds,” she says. “Last year, I distributed 120,000 seeds, but then by the middle of the summer I decided that I want to do more than that. I put gardens in 16 schools and hundreds of kids got to raise Monarchs. We raised over 200 and then we tagged them with the migration tags and then the kids studied about the migration. So it was a big project.”
Auld says that since then she has doubled her seed pack distribution that now includes Baton Rouge, Gonzales and Hammond. Her sights are now set on Lafayette and eventually further north with Alexandria, Shreveport and Monroe. She is also working with the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism to try to put gardens in all of the Louisiana welcome centers.
“I’m going to try and do the whole state this year,” says Auld. “So yeah, I’ve got a lot of stuff going on, but I love butterflies and I want to see that Monarchs are still going to be around.”
Bug Talk: Help Bring Back the Monarchs will be held on Saturday, March 28, at 1 p.m., near the 'Crawl Space' entomology exhibit in the Lafayette Science Museum, located at 433 Jefferson St., in Downtown Lafayette. For more information visit LafayetteScienceMuseum.org, and for more on the Bug Lady and her Help Bring Back the Monarch campaign, email her at [email protected]