A bevy of butterflies takes over N.C. Estuarium

Published 6:05 am Thursday, October 23, 2008

By Staff
Presentation breaks the cocoon on raising Monarchs
Staff Writer
Retired minister Bob Paciocco started raising butterflies after his wife suggested he get a hobby. Now, Paciocco is giving lectures to interested butterfly enthusiasts and newcomers using his “butterfly bible.”
Paciocco held a lecture at the North Carolina Estuarium’s auditorium Wednesday afternoon detailing his rise to butterfly aficionado and expert.
He also brought some friends along with him. Paciocco presented a small cage filled with Swallowtail butterflies in their cocoons, or chrysalides. He also showcased some deformed chrysalides that never fully hatched into butterflies and various shapes and sizes of Monarch and Swallowtail butterflies.
Paciocco said he started his butterfly “farm” by picking up some stray caterpillars. He cages the caterpillars and lets them cocoon until they morph into beautiful, vibrant, Monarch butterflies.
Paciocco said he tries to keep a record of all the chrysalides and caterpillars he has at one time, but some escape. He said a couple of caterpillars got free one day. When Paciocco’s wife finally found them, they were in chrysalides on the underside of the couple’s dinner tray.
The couple decided to let the butterflies hatch before using the tray again.
Paciocco said that he and his wife “both missed our calling.”
Paciocco’s butterflies have made an impression on many, including children that attend his church. He said that many of the children have started raising their own butterflies.
He even hopes to start a “butterfly society,” sponsored by the estuarium.
As part of the presentation, Paciocco brought a fellow butterfly-lover along.
Martha Hamblin, of Mebane, a self-proclaimed “citizen naturalist,” kicked off the afternoon presentation with a slideshow on her many trips to Central Mexico to track the winter migration of Monarch butterflies. The butterflies migrate south to Mexico from the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States every year to nest in Oyamel forests. The butterflies swarm to Oyamel trees, which are found solely in the central, mountainous region of Mexico.
Hamblin said researchers have not yet discovered why the Monarch butterflies are attracted to the Oyamel trees, but she said that it is not because of nourishment.
While the migration of Monarch’s remains a mystery, Paciocco finds it no mystery why people are fascinated with the beautiful butterfly.
Caption: Butterfly aficionado Bob Paciocco at the North Carolina Estuarium showcases some damaged and deformed Monarch and Swallowtail butterflies during a presentation on the beloved insects. (WDN Photo/Greg Katski)