White Butterflies Breed In Kaneohe

Carol Chang
Wednesday - February 13, 2008
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“I wanted to have butterflies in my yard, but there weren’t any,” explained Dancetta Feary, a woman who now has more fluttering friends than she ever dreamed possible.

Her adventure in breeding monarch butterflies came during “a time of changes” in her life, gave her new purpose - and turned her Kaneohe yard into a nursery for pretty insects.

She’s also come to appreciate the hard work involved in raising so many dependents at once.

“I don’t have enough crown flowers,” lamented the police detective-turned-Realtor associate. “They double their eating every day!” Feary even advertised on Craig’s List, offering to trim people’s crown flower trees for free, just so she can have the milkweed treats favored by her hungry little ones.

After two years of collecting eggs and caterpillars and educating herself online, Feary recently saw a breakthrough in her mission to increase the orange monarch butterfly population here: Two white monarch female butterflies were born in one of her cages.

Her mission changed after that Aug. 13, 2007 event, which also was the birthday of her late brother, musician Mackey Feary. Now her goal is to reproduce and release these whites “so that all Hawaii can enjoy seeing the white monarch butterfly in the wild.”

By mid-October, one white male was born to the third generation of those two white ladies. Then 230 more whites (called white morphs) were born alongside 1,350 orange siblings to complete that generation. It’s now passed 470. More emerge every day, but the winter weather takes its toll on the fragile creatures.

“Very few actually make it,” said Feary, who also gets advice from UH zoology professor John Stimson.“Geckos love them. They live only two to five weeks, so I’ve gotta keep them going. I’m so passionate about it.

“It’s pretty ridiculous, actually,” she admitted, relating tales of butterfly poop, wind damage, islandwide crown flower searches and egg patrol in the yard.

Then there’s the ever-present menace of the monarchs’ nemesis, the bulbul bird.“I’ve got a sling shot and a BB gun ... “

Feary rejoices in watching their metamorphosis - from egg to caterpillar to pupa to butterfly - and then releasing them. She said they have also grounded her spiritually and helped her to “let go” after losing those people closest to her.

“They do no harm,” she said, noting they are native to the Islands.“They just sit on a leaf and eat it.”

Got crown flowers? e-mail Feary at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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