Newton Noon Kiwanis
Three years ago, Harper Barton heard monarch butterflies would be put on the endangered species list in 2024. The Newton Christian School student decided she was going to do something about that. She searched online and found a video of a man doing what she wanted to do: help the monarch population increase.
Harper, now 14, said she was inspired to find her own monarch egg on a milkweed leaf. She found one and took care of it “until he flew away one day.” Today, she has a monarch butterfly-saving operation in her home.
Harper was the speaker at the June 15 Newton Noon Kiwanis Club meeting. She explained the life cycle of the monarch and brought in live monarch caterpillars and chrysalises.
“It is remarkable to think that an insect with a brain the size of a sesame seed and wings as thin as paper knows how to fly to Mexico,” Harper said before explaining that the monarch has two internal clocks that tell them when it’s time to leave to go south for the winter and how to navigate their way.
She also explained she feeds her newly emerged monarchs by using a toothpick to uncurl the butterfly’s nectar-sucking tube, or proboscis, and insert it into a bottle-cap filled with honey water “to mimic a flower.” By doing this, she gives the monarchs a head start on their journey so they don’t have to find food right away.
“The milkweed plant is the only plant monarchs will lay their eggs on,” Harper said, adding that those who want to join in her conservation efforts can plant common milkweed.
Harper will be a freshman at Newton High School this fall.