LEWISTON — For the third year, the Lewiston Public Library is staging a monarch butterfly rearing and tagging project as a partner in Cornerstones of Science, a national science literacy program.

“Monarch nurseries” have been set up at the public service desks on each of the library’s three floors, stocked with larvae provided by the Monarch Watch program at the University of Kansas.

The caterpillars are growing quickly as they feed on milkweed leaves plucked by LPL staff members from local fields, and they are expected to begin forming chrysalises and to emerge as butterflies during the first week of September.

Once the Monarch butterflies emerge, LPL staffers will tag each of them with an identifying label and set them free to join the annual 2,000-mile migration to an area high in the mountains of Mexico, the only place on earth where Monarchs overwinter. If any of the tagged butterflies are found en route to Mexico or after arriving, the tag numbers will be recorded and entered into a database to assist scientists in studying the migration.

A kiosk in the library’s foyer will feature an assortment of books and other materials about butterflies, including bookmarks, a newsletter from Monarch Watch, a Maine butterfly checklist, and handouts about raising Monarchs and developing gardens to attract butterflies. Visitors can also view “The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies,” a 2009 NOVA documentary, which will be running near the public service desks on the first and second floors, alternately, throughout the project.

The Reference Desk will award “Got Milkweed” bumper stickers as prizes for those patrons who correctly guess which days the individual butterflies will emerge from their chrysalises. All those who participate in the guessing game will be entered into a drawing to receive a Monarch Waystation canvas tote.

“The Monarch project has been hugely successful the past two years, and we’re delighted to have another opportunity to share the excitement of this miraculous transformation with the community,” said LPL Reference Librarian Ellen Gilliam.

More information on the Monarch project is available by contacting the LPL Reference Desk at 513-3135. Further details on Monarch Watch can be found at www.monarchwatch.com and on Cornerstones of Science at www.cornerstonesofscience.org.

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