BUTTERFLY DAY CARE: Local woman has passion for winged insects

COLUMBIA CITY — Laurie Butts, 52, didn’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 that’s when she fell in love with bugs.“It was the first spring we lived here,” said Butts, who shares her home with Beth Hauenstein.“We 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.”The caterpillar was brightly colored, had horns and lots of prickly things sticking out of its body, Butts said. “I got a stick and brought it to the house,” she said.Butts wondered what else could be out in her woods.“It all began with a devil but I’m in heaven out here in Whitley County,” she said.It’s been seven years since her first sighting and in 2012 she has documented sightings of 48 different varieties of moths and butterflies.“Oh wait until August. They will be fluttering around here like crazy,” she said.“My favorite variety is the Monarch. It feeds on milkweed. As it molts or sheds its skin it is a life-altering experience for me,” said Butts.The research continues for this former disability patient counselor. “Butterflies take a lot of patience and I’ve gained that with my work with disabled people. Patience, patience, patience is my mantra,” she said.Butts documented 145 Monarchs in 2011 and 150 this year. “This 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 I’m good with that,” said Butts.