Innovative program sees Woodland Villa residents raise butterflies

Woodland Villa resident Lucille Maheu is seen here with one of the butterflies that recently hatched at the Cornwall-area long-term care home.

Woodland Villa resident Lucille Maheu is seen here with one of the butterflies that recently hatched at the Cornwall-area long-term care home.

‘There was so much benefit to this program,’ LEC says

Woodland Villa residents recently had an up-close-and-personal experience of nature by spending several weeks caring for butterfly chrysalises, watching the butterflies hatch and then releasing them.

“We have always wanted to do a science experiment with the residents, so during one of our residents’ council meetings the idea of ordering a monarch butterfly habitat was mentioned and right away the residents agreed that this would be exciting,” explains Woodland Villa life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Lisa Doran.

The Cornwall-area long-term care home placed an order in May with Boreal Science, a St. Catharines-based provider of scientific education materials, for a butterfly habitat, which consists of larvae and netting.

Soon after the kit arrived at the home and was set up, the chrysalises, the hard shells that protect larvae, had formed around the 12 butterfly larvae. On the morning of June 4, three hatched and residents helped care for the newborn butterflies by feeding them with cotton balls soaked in sugar water. The others hatched soon after.

For two weeks, residents continued to care for the butterflies in the home’s fireplace room.

Residents spent two more weeks caring for the butterflies before releasing them June 18. Doran says releasing the butterflies was a bittersweet moment because residents were sad to see them fly away but, at the same time, they were happy to have lent Mother Nature a hand.

“There was so much benefit to this program,” Doran says. “Every day the residents would go into the room to make sure the butterflies had enough food and to see how they were doing. It was such a wonderful all-around experience for them.”

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