2018 05 Virginia LinchOn June 19, 2018, at the GNPA Griffin Chapter in Griffin, GA Virginia Linch will give a presentation on establishing and maintaining a butterfly habitat.  The meeting will begin at 6:30 PM at the Women’s Center, Spalding Regional Hospital. This meeting is free and open to the public!

Virginia Cartwright Linch grew up on St. Simons Island, exploring art and gardening with her mother, Louise Cartwright (who became a Master Gardener while in her late 60’s), and that started her on a lifetime dedication to those interests.  Her love of horses began while riding across the marshes and dunes on Sea Island.

She married Eatonton native, Ronald Linch and moved to Putnam County in 1985. They have two sons, two grandsons and twin granddaughters. She began working as the art director for a local screen printing company, which developed her first art instructions. 

Working for the Department of Agriculture as a barn manager overseeing the rehabilitation of impounded horses kept her equine interest alive; and using photography to document the progress of those horses began yet another hobby.

Incorporating those photographs and writing articles for equine related magazines proved to her that people will become active when they are informed of problems and solutions.

While her own family, horses, dogs, cats, cows and farm keeps her busy, there has always been time for gardening. From transplanting favorite blooms from her mother’s St. Simons garden to incorporating traditional landscape plants into her own garden, she continued the horticulture legacy. While looking for subjects for her growing photography hobby, she realized how few butterflies were in her garden. 

The blooms were there, but she would be waiting for random appearances of butterflies.   This frustration with the lack of diversity and numbers led to research and the AHA! moment when she learned of “larval host plants” necessary for the reproduction of butterfly species. Those random appearances of butterflies confirmed how the adult butterflies needed the nectar provided by her garden blooms. However, since she was not providing the larval host plants necessary for their reproduction, they were visiting, not living in her garden.

For the past several years she has replaced some of the exotic, non- native landscape plants with a variety of larval host plants and the appearance of butterflies was almost immediate.  She has been raising and releasing native butterflies for years now, giving different stages of caterpillars, chrysalides and larval host plants to girl scouts, friends, family, school groups and others.  The magic of this transformation into a creature of beauty always seems to touch each who is able to witness it.

Virginia states, “The growing awareness of the public to the reduction in numbers of honey bees has been slow but sure.  This reduction in numbers is true of most pollinators (including butterflies and hummingbirds); however, this associated decrease appears to have been overlooked. Butterflies are the forgotten pollinators.

We usually just associate butterflies with ornamental flower gardens. Butterflies are also pollinators who visit tomato, watermelon, and other crops helping complete the cycle these plants need to produce.  The native plants butterflies require to reproduce are usually considered weeds and are diligently removed from gardens, fields, pastures and the road banks where they used to thrive.

The introduction of necessary spraying for mosquitoes and other nuisance winged insects has also adversely affected the life cycles of butterflies.” As a “butterfly advocate”, Virginia is dedicated to helping spread the word of the way all of us can positively impact the life cycles of these winged wonders.

Virginia’s past and present jobs and accomplishments are many.  She has been Art Director, Perky Cap Co, Magistrate judge since 2000 to present. Briar Patch Arts Council 2011-2013, Project Director, Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch 2013 to present, 2015 Woman of the Year, and Amateur photographer & gardener.

For more information about Virginia’s project “Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch”, please visit the page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Butterfliesandbloomsinthebriarpatch/

For more information about Georgia Nature Photographers Association, please check out their web site, www.gnpa.org and click on the "central chapter".