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COLUMBIA CITY â€” Laurie Butts, 52, didnâ€™t really know she loved butterflies until she moved to a new home in a bean field near Tri-Lakes a few years ago.
In April 2005, Butts was walking on her property, which is surrounded by eight acres of grasslands, a pond and a well-pathed woods and thatâ€™s when she fell in love with bugs.
â€śIt was the first spring we lived here,â€ť said Butts, who shares her home with Beth Hauenstein.
â€śWe have three acres of woods and I came across a strange looking bug. It looked like it came out of space. To find that Luna Moth was amazing. I came back in the house and looked it up on the Internet. It was a Hickory Horned Devil. I found out this Luna Moth is an endangered species.â€ť
The caterpillar was brightly colored, had horns and lots of prickly things sticking out of its body, Butts said.
â€śI got a stick and brought it to the house,â€ť she said.
Butts wondered what else could be out in her woods.
â€śIt all began with a devil but Iâ€™m in heaven out here in Whitley County,â€ť she said.
Itâ€™s been seven years since her first sighting and in 2012 she has documented sightings of 48 different varieties of moths and butterflies.
â€śOh wait until August. They will be fluttering around here like crazy,â€ť she said.
â€śMy favorite variety is the Monarch. It feeds on milkweed. As it molts or sheds its skin it is a life-altering experience for me,â€ť said Butts.
The research continues for this former disability patient counselor.
â€śButterflies take a lot of patience and Iâ€™ve gained that with my work with disabled people. Patience, patience, patience is my mantra,â€ť she said.
Butts documented 145 Monarchs in 2011 and 150 this year.
â€śThis hobby is a serious labor of love. They need food every day, rain or shine. But this is a hobby that benefits the environment and Iâ€™m good with that,â€ť said Butts.