More than 270 Hurricane Ida evacuees have found a new home at a plant nursery in Opelousas.
New Orleans resident Christy Davis was preparing to leave for Florida ahead of the storm when she noticed a monarch butterfly laying eggs outside. Davis is one of many trying to raise caterpillars, so she went around her yard and picked up each egg before packing up and evacuating. Davis has since returned home, but isn't able to take care of the soon-to-be monarchs because she has no electricity.
She took to Facebook, posting in local gardening groups to see if anyone could help.
In Acadiana, Karen Garrison saw Davis's post and took action. She called around to several nurseries before landing upon Lastrapes Garden Center in Opelousas. The nursery is allowing the caterpillars to eat milkweed at the center, which makes up the majority of a caterpillar's diet.
Thursday, Garrison and others were putting the caterpillars on their new home. They'll next go to into their cocoons, and after about 8-10 days they will emerge as monarch butterflies.
Garrison said the monarch is one of the most common types of butterflies, but their population is plummeting due to threats from pesticides, development, and global climate change. She and others are working to win them protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
"Only about 10 percent is all that makes it in the wild," explained Garrison. "If we can raise that number up a little bit more, that's fantastic."
Once hatched, the butterflies will likely fly to South America and then return in the spring and lay their own eggs to start the cycle over again.
"It's a new life for the butterflies," she said. "It does your heart good to have 274 evacuees from Ida end up in Opelousas...which is pretty cool."
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