It had been a very rainy morning, but the rain stopped for a few hours and I went off to the park with 6 adult Monarchs, some first, third, and 5th instars, plus a pupa.
No one was there for my walk, so I waited a bit and in came a mother with her two kids. I asked them if they'd like to see my caterpillars. Great! I also asked them if they'd like to help me release the Monarchs. They had just eclosed (emerged) this morning so they weren't moving too fast. The 2 1/2 year old boy and 5 year old girl loved helping me. I showed them what a girl looks like and then showed them the boy. I had five girls and only one boy Monarch. We released 3 at the top of the hill. Two of the butterflies didn't fly so I told them we'd walk them down to the butterfly garden. I still had two in my container. As we were walking down the hill, both butterflies which were getting a ride on the two kids hands flew up. One flew up and away. The other flew back and landed on my hat. So the male butterfly got a ride down to the butterfly garden on my hat.
When we got to the butterfly garden, he flew off and up into the trees. I let the kids help me release the other two butterflies. They didn't stay long, but flew up into the trees.
The kids and I found tiny first and second instar caterpillars on the tropical milkweed in the butterfly garden. We also found lots of holes in the milkweed and frass (butterfly poop). They went off to play in the children's garden and I talked with another family about the Monarchs. I walked back to the visitors center. Before I left, I showed two more families the egg, caterpillars, and pupa that I had taken with me. Another little girl was so excited. She asked me if she could show her family what I had brought. She gently took the egg, caterpillars, and pupa over for them to see--one at a time.
A few more individuals learned about the Monarch and its incredible journey. Hopefully, they will pass the information along.