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Humphries turns butterflies into business

By Staff | Oct 1, 2010

There is an ancient native American legend that says you can send a message to the Great Spirit if you tell it to a butterfly. The butterfly can’t speak, so it won’t tell your message to anyone else.

Eleven years ago Peggy Humphries wanted to send best wishes for her son and his lovely bride. She wanted to release dozens of butterflies at their wedding. After investigating several sources she came to a decision.

“Wow, I ought to be selling them instead of buying them.”

That was the start of her new hobby. She learned how to find the caterpillars, provide the necessary climate and grow her own butterflies. The idea was so well received at her son’s wedding that she grew it into a hobby and business.

Humphries has released butterflies at many functions. At one wedding, after she released the butterflies one flew back and remained on the bride’s bouquet throughout the reception. Humphries said the mother of the bride came up later and said, “I think that was my deceased husband’s spirit who came to join us.”

Another memorable moment was when Humphries was consoling two young children at their father’s funeral.

“The butterflies will help Daddy find his way to Heaven,” she told them.

The day after 9/11, Humphries released butterflies at a memorial service at Shepherdstown Elementary School. Two left with the pack, then turned and came back. They landed on the flag at half mast. They remained until the prayers were over and then gently lifted off and floated away.

Humphries shares her butterflies with her many grandchildren. Several of her grandchildren go to Shepherdstown Elementary. Oren and Ezra, cousins, are in the kindergarten classes that got to release six dozen Monarchs on Sept. 24. The children delighted in seeing them fly. They were also thrilled to have them land on them.

“Butterflies taste with their feet and hear with their knees,” Humphries said to those in the attendance at the butterfly release at the elementary school last week.

Humphries is willing to share her love with others. Her husband, Dave, often helps with the butterflies: spritzing chrysalises and building homes among other upkeep.

The Humphries enjoy life on a local 20-acre farm, which, not surprisingly, is full of flowers that attract butterflies. Zinnias of any color and carrot family plants, like grandmother’s lace, are among the popular landing spots. Butterflies also need water and sturdy structures to hang their chrysalises from.

However, 20 acres isn’t always enough. Sometimes they have to go hunting. Sometimes the Humphries can be seen traipsing through fields of milk weed, nets in hand.