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Monarch butterflies released from Fountain Crest Retirement Community

May 23, 2018
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

A new excitement is brewing at Fountain Crest Retirement Community, one of which is bringing residents out to the garden on a daily basis to see how their monarch butterflies are doing.

"What this project has done to the residents is it has added a whole new dimension," Dr. Tom Palumbo said with excitement. "The whole place has come alive."

Residents run out the garden to see what has materialized, as well as spend time on the computer researching information about the monarch butterflies.

Article Photos

Fountain Crest Retirement Community residents Ellie Schneider and Dr. Tom Palumbo. Palumbo is releasing one of the monarch butterflies.


"I am excited about it. I am really enjoying it. The place is all together new. It's magic," Palumbo said.

Resident Earla Miller said they decided to put together a garden in February and brought all kinds of plants in the designated butterfly garden area.

"They were beautiful and we found there were butterflies with them," she explained. "We are trying to keep the butterflies going and keep the garden going."

Suzanne Ullemeyer, a manager at Fountain Crest Retirement Community, said when Miller got the garden going they realized there were monarch butterfly eggs in the garden. One of the many plants is milkweed, which the monarch butterfly caterpillars eat.

With the exciting find, the Fountain Crest Retirement Community decided to begin releasing the monarch butterflies to help the population.

"I believe at this point we have released 25, more males than females," Ullemeyer said. "It has been a great experience for myself and all the other residents at Fountain Crest."

The garden, as of May 17, had approximately 20 butterflies in the chrysalis form. She said it's a beautiful lime green color, which lasts for seven to 10 days before it turns dark brown, resulting in the monarch butterfly flying from the chrysalis.

In addition they have about 20 to 30 caterpillars.

"We are trying to get other species, so we are planting different kinds of flowers out there," Ullemeyer said.

Miller said they have an enclosed porch that has room for at least 10 people to sit and enjoy the garden. The residents, also walk through the plantings at various times throughout the day.

"There are places you can walk around the garden. There are lots of things you can do when you are looking at them. It's kind of special," she said.

Ullemeyer said she and some other folks at Fountain Crest are looking at possibly starting a tagging program for the monarch butterflies.

"We thought it would be a neat thing to do . . . follow and see if they migrate and come back and see how long they live for," she said.

The hope is to be able to release 100 monarch butterflies.



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