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At Home Hairstylist Turns Butterfly Savior


Imagine it’s a Saturday morning, you’ve booked an appointment with you’re local hairstylist, and there are caterpillars, cocoons and gorgeous bright orange monarch butterflies hanging from what looks like fish tanks. It may seem like an odd thought at first, but for Ithaca hairstylist Rose Cochran-Teeter’s “Shear Hair By Rose”, this image is a reality.

Key Points:

  • Rose Cochran-Teeter collects caterpillars from state parks to rescue and keep them safe until they have turned into butterflies to be released.
  • State parks around the country, including Tompkins County have been cutting down milkweeds, the only source of food for caterpillars
  • Her home is considered a Monarch Waystation where caterpillars can receive the proper food sources the change into butterflies

“We need to plant 1.8 billions stems of milkweed this year for the caterpillars survive.”  – Dr Chip Taylor, Founder and Director of Monarch Watch

Cochran-Teeter has been rescuing, releasing and tagging butterflies for 12 years

She says that 2017-2018 will be her biggest release year with over 300 butterflies. She has received recognition from the organization Monarch Watch.

It started off as a hobby, but when she and her husband Paul Teeter took a trip to a butterfly sanctuary in Niagara County, New York, they realized there were no monarchs flying around with the other butterflies.

“I was so bummed,” Cochran-Teeter said. They then decided to take initiative. The once at home hair studio now has a duel purpose. It holds four tanks of butterflies, caterpillars and chrysalides – their cocoons.

Tagging the butterflies is a form of identification


By putting harmless numbered stickers, or “tags” on the butterflies’ wings, allowing them to be tracked. If someone from Monarch Watch see’s and recognizes the butterfly, it’s one way of knowing that someone like Cochran-Teeter cared for the creature.

The land surrounding her home is a certified Monarch Waystation


“It was so cool when I got my sign up” she said. “I was like, ‘Ahhh, I’ve got my own Waystation!’” A Waystation provides milkweeds, nectar sources and shelter needed to sustain Monarch Butterflies as they migrate through North America.

In Ithaca, Taughannock Falls State Park cut milkweed, the only source of food for caterpillars. Without this plant, they can die before having the opportunity to turn into butterflies. The tanks are a safe haven upon rescue, and provide a harmless place for chrysalides to form and Monarchs to be born.

She wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without her “wingmen”

This is the team of friends and family members who have helped turn her once hobby into an important ecologic mission. The “wingmen” include: Ithaca locals, Luci Crutchfield and Sandy Simkin, as well as her brother Rob and his wife Ann Cochran. Both Simkin and Cochran’s were monumental in the collection of over 400 caterpillars total. Resulting in the recent increase in butterflies released.

In terms of the future, Cochran-Teeter strives to release even more butterflies. This year’s number may have been unexpected, but it only gives her more incentive to try and release as many more as she and her “wingmen” can together.

“I was walking in the park and this lady said, ‘do you really think you’re going to save them’? Cochran-Teeter said, “and I said, ‘you know what, I’m going to try.’ You always have to try, you just have to.”

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