Connecting seniors with monarch butterflies!

by Hannah Gurholt

A Cornell based research group is collaborating with senior citizens and their living centers around Ithaca, NY to increase milkweed gardens for the community. The group is composed of PhD student, Hannah Gurholt, Cornell undergraduate, Retna Arun, REU student, Van Hniang Par, and Cornell lab technician, Paloma Mate-Kodjo. So far, the team has been planting the monarch’s host plants, common milkweed and swamp milkweed, at Kendal Senior Living and Brookdale Senior Living centers.

As part of Hannah’s PhD research, the plants were originally used  for a local field experiment looking at monarch development. After the experimental monarchs pupated, the plants were moved to the assisted living centers. Residents were given small informational guides about each species and how they benefit monarchs.

Over 80 milkweeds have been planted for residents and local pollinators to enjoy. They hope to continue rehoming their plants at other assisted livings in the area and encourage any other research teams to do the same.

From left to right: Hannah  Gurholt, Paloma Mate-Kodjo, Retna Arun, and Van Hniang Par with local residents of Brookdale Senior Living
Pots of swamp milkweed before being planted at Brookdale Senior Living
Retna Arun, Hannah Gurholt, and Van Hniang Par planting at Brookdale Senior Livng in Ithaca, NY
Retna Arun, planting pots of swamp milkweed at Kendal Senior Living
Hannah Gurholt showing a caterpillar to some residents at Brookdale Senior Living

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