Worthington Estates neighbors need not be alarmed if they see Susan Brown crawling around bushes near her home.

She's simply trying to save the butterflies.

Brown, 50, is a local pharmacist. She said she loves her job, but she has discovered her passion in raising monarch and eastern black swallowtail butterflies.

Her interest in saving butterflies began a few years ago in Cincinnati. At the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, Brown watched "Flight of the Butterflies," a documentary about monarch butterflies and their interesting migration patterns.

She said the film stirred something in her, and her childhood love of butterflies came flooding back.

"I think of the number of butterflies I saw as a child – there were a lot," she said. "You used to have them smashed all over the windshield of your car because there were so many. You don't see that anymore."

Brown did her research and found that monarchs almost exclusively feed on milkweed, a plant native to Ohio. She gathered the plant from any source she could and began finding monarch caterpillar eggs.

Eventually, she taught herself the process of saving the eggs and guiding them to becoming butterflies.

Each day, Brown searches for the eggs in her yard and transfers them to safer plants near her house, where the caterpillars can mature. When they near their chrysalis phase, she puts them in an enclosure where they can hang uninterrupted, safe from predators.

In addition to monarchs, Brown learned that eastern black swallowtails also are native to her area.

Throughout the warmer months, Brown wakes – usually early in the morning – to a few new butterflies per day and lets them out in her yard.

"Hopefully it's making a difference," she said. "That's what we're hoping, at least. It would be a shame if monarchs went extinct."

What began as a hobby has become something of a calling card for Brown.

She said neighbors visit and sometimes bring their children to learn about the butterflies.

Whenever she needs something, such as more milkweed plants or a special kind of foliage, she usually can find a willing volunteer.

"Everyone likes butterflies," she said. "If you tell them what you're doing, they tend to help."

Even her friend and neighbor, Tammy Schriever, has gotten into raising her own butterflies in her own yard.

"(Brown) taught me everything I know," Schriever said. "She started it and got me into it, too."

Brown and Schriever said several other neighbors in the northwest Worthington neighborhood are saving butterflies, as well. They said neighbors always are interested to hear that it's not as difficult a process as it might seem.

"I was just surprised I could find them," Schriever said with a laugh.

Now, Brown finds herself scrolling through online forums and Facebook pages, such as one called Monarch Maniacs, to find information and learn how she could be doing better. She has become good at the process, though she is quick to correct that she is "not a scientist."

"You know you're totally into this when you're out at night with a flashlight looking for caterpillars," she said. "I have totally done that. You just feel like they're doing to die if you don't."

Brown said she also sees her project as something that everyone can support.

And in an era of environmentally conscious thinking, she said, she hopes her small movement and others like it across the country could help benefit the whole butterfly population.

"People have become more environmentally conscious," she said. "We would like these butterflies to be around in the future. The way to ensure that is to provide a habitat for them."

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