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Flying Free on the County Grounds

Butterfly release is a hit with young and old at fundraiser for the Monarch Trail.

Red admirals, buckeyes, commas, mourning cloaks and, of course, monarchs – all types of native Wisconsin butterflies – went fluttering off Sunday across the County Grounds.

Raised from eggs collected by Barb Agnew, the colorful insects were released to the cheers of a small crowd of well-wishers at a fundraiser for the Monarch Trail on the grounds.

Agnew keeps her butterfly rearing operation in her floral shop, , 12326 Watertown Plank Rd., and is the founder of the Monarch Trail and Friends of the Monarch Trail.

Agnew also grows milkweed seedlings at the shop, many of which she handed out Sunday in exchange for donations to supports the trail. Milkweeds are the only plants on which monarch butterflies will lay their eggs.

On view and for sale, too, were arrangements called "pupa ports" that included live monarch chrysalises.

Agnew holds several small fundraisers on the County Grounds each year to help with the cost of trail maintenance and promotion of natural habitat preservation.

Among those in attendance Sunday was 3-year-old Josephine Dembosky of Greendale, who enjoyed the thrill of holding and releasing one butterfly after another as Agnew handed them to her from a big mesh bag hung from a maple tree.

There's no controlling butterflies once they're loose, but Agnew and her friends hope that some of them will stick around, breed, and help add to the color and life of the County Grounds.

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