CERRO GORDO, Ill. (WCIA) — A woman in Cerro Gordo decided to have a pollinator garden to help bees and bought a couple of milkweed plants, which turned into her raising monarch butterflies.

On Friday, Heather Tirpak released a few of the monarchs. They are migrating to Mexico for the winter, and she said they would come back in the spring to lay eggs and then die. However, they live nine months, much longer than the few weeks to months that summer monarchs live.

Courtesy: Heather Tirpak

“I bought a couple of milkweed plants while planting new parts of my garden. By July, we had baby caterpillars and eggs. My daughter was super interested in it,” Tirpak said. She ended up releasing 30 monarchs last year.

This year, “The nine milkweed plants I started off with have turned into over hundred! I have no idea how many monarchs we raised this year. I am thinking over 40.” She said they had loads of caterpillars leftover which let nature take its course.

Her yard and garden are pesticide free. She said her garden is a work in progress. “I have a small, maybe 100 square foot area with more added as I receive more funds.” She also loves trading plants and seeds with people.

“My plan is for my garden to eventually take up my whole yard. I would like most of my garden to have native Illinois plants and not cultivators, but those are sometimes hard to find and expensive, but I am working on it!” She added, “Monarchs have become more rare than we realize. So, I am just doing my small part to help butterflies and other pollinators do their job to feed us. Added benefit? It looks pretty.”