8/31/2021

Frank O’Donnell and his daughter Kayla in front of a yard created in memory of O’Donnell’s youngest daughter, Keri, who died in 2010.

Frank O’Donnell has much more milkweed seeds than he understands what to do with.

On a mission to aid the monarch butterfly inhabitants, the previous North Providence resident says he’s happy to mail any one seeds from the butterfly garden he developed in memory of his daughter, Keri, who died in a car or truck accident in 2010 at the age of 15.

“The butterflies remind me of her,” claimed O’Donnell, a regional comedian, performer, and leisure author for The Breeze who now life in Jamestown. “In a pretty modest way it is encouraging maintain her alive.” He explained that back in 2010, soon following Keri’s funeral, he was actively playing fetch with the household pet dog in their lawn in North Providence when he noticed an orange butterfly landing on the facet of their house and was there every single time he turned close to. “I could not recall ever looking at a butterfly stick all around for that extended,” he explained, adding that orange was one particular of Keri’s preferred colors.

After publishing about the incident on Fb, two pals instructed he obtain a butterfly bush. The upcoming working day, he said, his wife’s pals introduced them a concrete angel statue healthy for a backyard garden. He shortly obtained to operate creating the back garden, he stated, introducing butterfly-friendly vegetation.

In March of 2020, O’Donnell moved to Jamestown exactly where he planted a a lot greater yard with butterfly-helpful plants together with milkweed, he reported. The backyard is stuffed with Keri’s favored hues: orange, purple, and dazzling inexperienced.

Milkweed, a flowering perennial plant, is vital simply because monarch caterpillars feed solely on its leaves, in accordance to the Nationwide Wildlife Federation. “As this kind of, milkweed is essential for the survival of monarchs,” reads the NWF web site. “Without it, they simply cannot complete their lifetime cycle and their populations decrease.”

At the close of the period, O’Donnell mentioned, the milkweed experienced produced a ton of seed pods. Not wanting to waste them he again posted on Facebook and started out sending them to close friends who asked for some.

After some media coverage, O’Donnell claimed, “It just exploded.” He’s experienced requests for seeds from individuals in all 50 states as very well as countries including Brazil, England, and Belgium.

“I’m definitely glad men and women are reacting to it,” he stated, incorporating that it is significant that men and women mature milkweed so butterflies have a habitat.

“All this begun since I experienced further milkweed seeds, and I didn’t want to squander them,” he mentioned. “In a pretty modest way I like to feel I’m encouraging the monarchs maximize their populace. That’s been a difficulty. Their numbers have been dwindling.”

O’Donnell additional that he definitely thinks that Keri is driving the potent desire. “She’s certainly pushing this,” he explained. “I’m content to do anything in her honor.”

Doing the job from property very last year, he stated he was also equipped to raise monarch butterflies just after buying larvae from the Monarch View site. He finally introduced 28 butterflies that yr.

Last Thursday he stated he was releasing 4 butterflies and experienced currently unveiled eight, introducing that he’s hoping to release much more this yr than previous 12 months. Also this year, he claimed, he’s tagging the butterflies, which will help monitor their migration as extensive as another person sees it and reviews it.

This 12 months has also been an extraordinary calendar year for milkweed, he stated. “I’m on the lookout out the window ideal now at the garden, and there are a ton of seed pods that are increasing.” That indicates he’ll have a large amount a lot more to distribute in the late tumble and early wintertime, he explained.

In the course of this journey, he stated, he turned extremely aware of monarchs and their dwindling inhabitants. Milkweed is essential for them to lay their eggs on for the reason that it can make them harmful to predators including birds.

“I’m understanding a ton,” he claimed, noting that monarchs will migrate countless numbers of miles to Mexico for the winter season, head back again north in the spring, mate, lay eggs, die, and a further technology will continue on north. “They’re just awesome creatures,” he explained.

He’s also joined Facebook teams centered on monarchs and has realized all sorts of strategies, he noted, introducing that another person also gave him a textbook on the subject matter. “It’s like I’m back in large college,” he mentioned.

In addition to requesting milkweed, O’Donnell claimed people have been reaching out to tell him about gardens they have for their lost liked types. “There’s some solace in figuring out you’re not by itself in this,” he stated. “It’s especially touching when I listen to from people today who’ve shed little ones.”

“I never want to be cliche, but it is been a labor of adore,” he additional.

O’Donnell’s tale was showcased on NBC Nightly Information previous 7 days. Locate it by googling “Rhode Island dad receives symbolic pay a visit to from butterfly.”

Anybody fascinated in requesting seeds can e-mail O’Donnell at [email protected] or obtain him on Fb at Keri’s Milkweed & Monarch Undertaking.

A photograph of Keri is exhibited in the backyard garden.

A monarch butterfly lays an egg on milkweed in Frank O’Donnell’s garden.