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Butterflies are Free to Fly...with a Little Help from Friends!

Thanks to Heartis Village senior living residents, Peoria’s Monarch butterfly population is growing! With the help of the Monarch Butterfly Task Force, residents planted a butterfly garden earlier this summer to attract the brilliant orange and black-winged insects and to provide migrating butterflies the nourishment they need to grow and populate.


For starters, task force members and residents went on a shopping spree at a local nursery to buy pollinator plants like butterfly bushes and sun flowers. The task force presented an educational workshop, donated additional plants, and helped plant the garden and paint stepping stones.


Growing and blooming, the beautiful garden soon became a butterfly breeding ground. Task force members delivered caterpillars and houses, so residents could witness the entire metamorphosis process from egg to butterfly. 


Heartis residents waited patiently for weeks while diligently caring for the caterpillar houses, keeping them clean and full of fresh milkweed—cut directly from Heartis Village’s woodsy backyard! As if by magic, the caterpillars changed into chrysalis and then after almost another two weeks they completed the metamorphosis and became butterflies!


“It was truly a remarkable process to watch!” said Heartis Village Community Life Coordinator Lynette Steger. “The residents carefully held the monarchs in their hands before releasing them into the wild. We even knew which butterflies were boys and girls based on their spots.”


The Central Illinois Monarch Butterfly Task Force was established by the Peoria Garden Club with the mission of working with garden clubs, schools, businesses and other interested organizations on the plight of the Monarch Butterfly, the Illinois State insect. The task force’s goal is to increase the local Monarch population by working with members of the community—like the Heartis Village residents—to plant more milkweed and pollinator plants.


“Creating the butterfly garden and releasing butterflies into the wild has been a wonderful experience that connected our senior living residents to the Peoria community and the world,” Steger said.


Monarch butterflies call the Americas home with their migration taking them as far north as Canada and as far south as Mexico City. A single monarch can travel hundreds to thousands of miles during its short lifespan of only a few weeks. 


Heartis Village is a Pathway to Living managed community. For more information, please contact Pathway to Living at or call 888-342-4111.