By Gregg McQueen
There are royals about.
A small green space situated near a busy Inwood street corner is playing a key role in helping monarch butterflies complete their annual migration to Mexico.
Located near Good Shepherd School on the corner of Isham Street and Seaman Avenue, the butterfly sanctuary has raised and released about 100 butterflies this past summer.
It was started in June by community members concerned about the endangered status of monarchs, whose numbers are dwindling due to overdevelopment, pesticides, and other hazards.
At the Good Shepherd Butterfly Sanctuary, monarch butterflies are raised from eggs into caterpillars. Eventually, the caterpillar hangs upside down from a twig or leaf and soon becomes a shiny pupa known as a chrysalis. A few weeks later, a butterfly emerges. Once released, the butterfly instinctually flies about 3,000 miles back to Mexico, and will eventually return in the spring.
“It’s really a way-station for the butterflies so they can start out on the journey,” said Keith DeCesare, a local resident who started the garden earlier this year. “Their numbers are shrinking, so they need all the help they can get to survive.”
According to a 2017 study published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation, scientists believe the species could become extinct in the next 30 years.