It was a beautiful summer morning when Carol Minnich and I met at her Warwick Woodlands Campus home. Sitting on her front porch with a smile on her face and wearing a beautiful felted wool butterfly pin, a recent gift from her daughter, it didn’t take long for me to understand why she has been coined by many as “The Butterfly Lady.”
A loving mother of two, Carol was a stay-at-home mom until her kids, Kristen and Marshall, were teenagers. To help with college tuition, Carol re-entered the workforce eventually landing a position with Fulton Bank, where she was happily employed for 25 years until her retirement.
As a child, Carol recalled, “I was always fascinated by all things nature,” but as would hold true with most people, the responsibilities of work and raising children didn’t allow much time to pursue new hobbies. It was only when her children were grown and out of the house that Carol learned about raising butterflies from a close friend and her sister-in-law.
Nearly twelve years later, Carol shared, “I’m always learning something new.” A hobby that started when she was living in her former home in Lancaster, PA, Carol didn’t think it would be possible to continue raising butterflies when she moved to Moravian Manor Communities. So, she reluctantly gave away all her cages. Shortly after her arrival here, while tending to her parsley, she noticed it was loaded with Swallowtail caterpillars. Carol has officially been raising butterflies ever since!
Word spread fast about Carol’s hobby and now friends and neighbors regularly bring her caterpillars found in and around their gardens. In cages sheltered on her front porch away from the harsh elements, Carol provides a safe haven for a variety of butterflies, mostly Swallowtail, but some Monarch as well. In each cage, Carol carefully places the larvae or caterpillars and provides them with the appropriate food source. “They are veracious eaters,” Carol laughed, “I’m always checking to make sure they have the nutrients needed to continue their development.” She recounted a recent visit from one of her neighbors that provided an opportunity seen by few. In one of her many cages, there was a Swallowtail going into chrysalis. And only a few moments later, they witnessed a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. Truly a site to behold.
I was captivated by Carol’s vast knowledge as she described in great detail the cycle of a butterfly and the important role butterflies play in our society. That’s when I knew Carol’s love for butterflies wasn’t just a hobby…it was a passion. I asked Carol what she would like readers to know. Carol’s heartfelt response was this, “Monarchs are important pollinators, along with bees, hummingbirds, moths and bats, playing an important role in pollinating food crops and approximately 75% of the world’s flowering plants. Sadly, the Monarch population, although not yet extinct, is plummeting (recently officially added to the endangered species list) due to pesticides, development, deforestation, climate change, and loss of their only food source as caterpillars, which is the milkweed family of plants. Monarchs are attracted to flowers for its nectar (thus the need for pollinator gardens), but also need milkweed to lay their eggs on, which is the food source for their caterpillars, which in turn become butterflies and thus completing the cycle of life. It is essential to protect the Monarchs (and other pollinators) because of their important role in our ecosystem!”
In addition to her work with butterflies, Carol loves playing cards. At any given time, she can be found playing cards with friends and neighbors on both the Founder and the Warwick Woodlands campuses. During the winter months, when life isn’t quite as busy, she also enjoys the art of quilling.
To learn more about Monarch butterflies and what you can do to help save this endangered species, visit https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/monarch-butterfly-declared-endangered-amid-declining-numbers.