By Tracey Hamilton
Many people have hobbies. Whether it is collecting, growing or making things. Trey Hookham, 14 of Dysart has a different kind of hobby. At an early age Trey has been interested in science and especially bugs. With the help of his parents, who have backgrounds in science themselves, Trey has been collecting and "growing" monarch butterflies since the age of ten.
What Trey does is scouts the nearby ditches of Dysart for milkweed plants which is where the monarch caterpillar lays it's eggs. Whether it is just the eggs he finds or an already hatched caterpillar, he takes them home to begin the process of nature in his own backyard. The eggs then remain on the milkweed leaf and are placed in a large vented container which the Hookhams have in their garage. When the caterpillars hatch, Trey then adds fresh milkweed as a food source for the newly hatched caterpillars. According to the Hookhams, caterpillars eat a large amount of milkweed which does result in a large amount of waste left behind. So there is some work that goes into caring for these and having a hobby of this kind.
The caterpillar continues to munch on the milkweed for about 2 weeks growing into a large (larvae) monarch caterpillar. From there the caterpillar forms what is known as a chrysalis (pupa) and that is when Trey transfers it to the families butterfly "house"/pavilion that Trey's father, Mark built for him last summer. In about ten days a beautiful monarch butterfly then emerges from the chrysalis and begins it's adult life that will last from 2-6 weeks.
If you aren't into nature or science like the Hookham family, you may not know the actual time frame for one monarch butterfly's life cycle (one generation) which is very interesting to learn.
It is about 6-8 weeks and consists of 4 generations. In February/March is when the hibernating monarchs in Mexico and Southern California reawaken, become active, find a mate and begin the long journey northward where they then lay their eggs and then die. In March/April is when the first generation of monarchs are born and go through the same process as Trey does in his backyard. The same goes for the second and third generations of Monarchs but for the fourth generation (September/ October) things are different. This generation does not die. They actually migrate back south and live for 7-8 months in Mexico or Southern California. They hibernate during that time until the following Spring when the amazing process of life repeats in the same manner for the monarch butterfly and for the Hookham family. Even though Trey is busier now with school and sports then he was at ten years old, with the help of his mom Stephanie and his father, the family is able to keep this unique hobby going.