A Butterfly's Journey Begins in Cinnaminson
A Cinnaminson fifth-grader enjoys a unique hobby while helping scientists and inspiring hope.
Butterflies are free to fly and many have begun the journey of their lifetime at the Hoban's house in Cinnaminson.
Samantha Hoban, a fifth-grader from Eleanor Rush School has found a unique hobby in raising butterflies. After joining the Butterfly Club at Rush School in third grade, Hoban took an interest in raising monarch butterflies and brought home milkweed plants and as her mom says, “it took off from there.”
Samantha sprinkled milkweed seeds around her mom’s garden and many plants sprouted up. Around 50 caterpillars clung to the milkweed in her yard.
Monarchs are often called the “milkweed butterfly.” Milkweed, also known as Asclepias, is the host plant for monarch butterflies. They lay eggs on the milkweed and the eggs turn into caterpillars. The caterpillar eats the milkweed and transforms into a chrysalis. Then a butterfly emerges. This was happening all over the Hoban’s yard this past spring and summer.
Hoban’s mom, Colette, is very proud of her daughter’s success with the butterflies and says, “Samantha raised 40 herself, gave five to her best friend Sarah, and gave five to her aunt to share with her preschool class. So far all of them have successfully turned into butterflies.”
Hoban also said that her daughter took great care of all the plants and her caterpillars this summer. “Samantha cares for all living things and has dreams of being a vet someday."
Samantha's favorite thing about her butterflies was raising them and watching them fly away. She said it wasn’t a lot of work but the hardest part was setting them free without touching or disturbing the other caterpillars. She hopes to get a bigger net next year so she can raise even more butterflies.
What is really interesting about Samantha’s work with the monarchs is that it doesn’t all end in her backyard when she sets them free. She tagged her butterflies this year. Tagging is merely placing stickers on the butterflies so that when they reach their destination, researchers will know where they came from and how far they traveled among other important details. Tagging butterflies helps scientists collect data to learn about the paths of migrating monarch butterflies.
Monarchs fly south for the winter months to roosting spots in Mexico. Their children’s grandchildren will take the trip south the following year. It’s all very cyclical and distinct. Tagging has allowed scientists to learn about the unique migrating practices of the monarch butterfly. This particular type of butterfly migrates in groups and travels farther than any other butterfly does. They often return to the same roosting spots year after year, even the exact same trees where their predecessors spent winters before them.
Samantha is helping the scientists but she also shared her butterflies with the students at Eleanor Rush School this past week for a 9/11 remembrance ceremony.
The ceremony included speeches by the school's principal Mrs. Banecker and supervisor, Mrs. Janice Wills Kingsbury, reminding students and staff of the significance of remembering what happened 11 years ago and ensuring that hate isn't allowed to breed in our schools and communities. Peri Boone, a classmate of Samantha's, sang a moving rendition of the National Anthem and several plants and items were donated to the school's memorial garden in honor of the victims and heroes of Sept. 11, 2001.
The ceremony ended as Samantha's butterflies were set free symbolizing hope and change. They mingled with students and staff, eliciting oohs and aahs before embarking on their long journey, ready for the challenges ahead, thanks to the kindness and caring nature of a fifth-grade girl from Cinnaminson.
“Butterflies appear to dance as they flitter among the flowers. They awaken a sense of lightness and joy.” A quote from Pure-Spirit