Cross Country Checkup

Meet the 13-year-old who is saving monarch butterflies from her Toronto backyard

Simone Hedley and her mother are doing their part to protect the threatened pollinator by raising and releasing monarch butterflies into their West Toronto neighbourhood.

Simone Hedley and her mother are doing their part to protect the threatened pollinator

Simone Hedley has encouraged the children in her neighbourhood to raise monarchs too. (Submitted by Susan Hedley)

Simone Hedley has released more than 600 monarch butterflies since she started raising them in her West Toronto home backyard at age six.

With the help of her mother Susan, the young animal lover released 130 monarchs this year alone and Toronto is expecting to see even more.

Hedley raises the butterflies from crawling caterpillar to lift-off inside her home to protect them from natural predators.

She also planted a pollinator garden in her yard to provide fresh milkweed for the caterpillars, an essential flower for the threatened species.

Speaking to Cross Country Checkup guest host Michelle Eliot, Hedley explained why she believes it's important to help protect wildlife from her own backyard.

Below is part of that conversation.

Hedley and her mother raise monarch butterflies in their family home and feed them with milkweed grown in their garden. (Submitted by Susan Hedley)

What do you want to say about Canada's efforts to protect wildlife?

We've encouraged our other neighbours, and other family members, to raise monarchs — and in fact, our whole neighbourhood has noticed an increase in monarch sightings.

Almost all of the kids in our neighbourhood are now raising monarchs.

Why are you, as a 13-year-old, so concerned about the fate of the Monarch butterflies?

The butterflies are a really important pollinator and, when our pollinators go, they're the ones who provide us with food.

Once they go, we are going to be gone shortly after because we are not going to have anything to eat.

So what's it like for you and your family to be taking this on, Simone?

At some points it does get a little stressful because they are unfortunately faced with a lot of diseases and a lot of other insects do eat them.

Also, it's a really big struggle in Toronto to find milkweed that isn't covered in aphids and hasn't been sprayed with pesticides. 

What is it like to be having this conversation with your neighbours, your friends?

A lot of people think it's fascinating to watch the lifecycle of the monarch and how they go from being this little tiny tiny egg to this beautiful butterfly. 

This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. Written by Breanne Coulter.


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