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Encinitas Farm Teaches Students About Threatened Monarch Butterfly

Monarch butterfly at Butterfly Ranch in Encinitas on Oct. 19, 2017.

Photo by Erik Anderson

Above: Monarch butterfly at Butterfly Ranch in Encinitas on Oct. 19, 2017.

An Encinitas butterfly farm hosted a group of school children Thursday, hoping to teach the young people about the threatened Monarch butterfly.

A quick flutter of orange, black and white drew plenty of attention from the Capri Elementary School students.

"Oh that's a good one," squealed the kids as they chased a butterfly fluttering just out of their reach.

The kids were hosted by the nonprofit Butterfly Farms, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and The Resource Conservation District of San Diego County.

Monarchs and other butterflies filled a long enclosure. Inside were plenty of plants sporting colorful flowers and also different kinds of milkweed. Monarchs eat and lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed plants. It is a message that got through to eight-year-old Nico Schweikert.

"You guys should plant more milkweed so then more moms would come so then they would lay more butterflies," Schweikert said.

Schweikert held a butterfly that had part of one wing missing. That concerned his classmate.

"And then it flew, but it couldn't fly completely because its wing was broken. Its wing was ripped," Alan Olivera said.

But not all butterflies were injured. Some were tagged and then released.

"We're going to follow this butterfly. Everywhere it goes we're going to know where its going, sparkles yup, if its resting or its flying," Cash Merriman said.

Tagging will help officials learn more about local monarch populations which are struggling because of lack of habitat.

Organizers hope the experience is invaluable for the kids.

"A lot of these kids don't have backyards; they live in higher density housing. So, they don't get to see what we have here so often. They ecstatic. There's nothing... it's a fun place to be," said Tom Merriman, director of Butterfly Farms.

Merriman hopes by making the connection to nature he helps open the door to future conservation efforts.

An Encinitas butterfly farm hosted a group of school children Thursday, hoping to teach the young people about the threatened Monarch butterfly.

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