I am the NOLA BugLady and most people don't know my real name is Linda. In 1976 I began working for my father, Ernest Hartley Barber, at Barber Laboratories, a three-generation family business founded in 1921 by my grandfather, Ernest Robinson Barber. Identifying pests, advising control methods, and selling professional-strength products was my daily routine for 47 years. Many people were amazed by my "Learning Room" where I showcased my live butterflies, moths, and beetles that I was raising. "The End of an Era" began September 30, 2022 when I officially retired. It was the last day the Barber Laboratories store was open for business completing 101 years of service to the community.
I have been a Caterpillar Mama for over 47 years now and have raised 147 species of butterflies and moths, photographing and studying the life cycles of these insects. For the last 30 years, summer weekends involved counting butterflies for the North American Butterfly Association at Honey Island swamp, Bonnet Carre Spillway, Starkville, Vicksburg, and Gloster, MS, as well as Tallahassee, Florida. I've enjoyed participating in the Monarch tagging programs sponsored by Dr. Fred Urquhart (University of Toronto) as well as Monarch Watch (Lawrence, Kansas). For five years I worked with Dr. Christen Steele (Tulane University) and the University of Georgia Monarch Health team researching the Monarch Oe parasite. We sampled and tested live butterflies in attempts to better understand the fluctuating levels of the debilitating protozoan plague in our Metro New Orleans area.
My articles on both butterfly gardening and pest-control topics have been published in newsletters of Baton Rouge Audubon Society, Orleans Audubon Society, Louisiana Native Plant Society, Native Plant Initiative, Southern Lepidopterists Society, LA Master Naturalists, Acadiana Native Plant Project and Louisiana Garden Club Federation. In 2019 I published my first book, "BugLady's Butterfly Summer" which is packed with exciting adventure stories and nature discoveries while exploring woodland trails and raising Louisiana butterflies.
I have traveled near and far promoting butterfly gardening at every opportunity: at schools, garden clubs, plant societies, scouts and more. In 2014 I began my "Project: Monarch" mission to become Louisiana's milkweed seed distributor and installed butterfly gardens in 16 schools so that the teachers and hundreds of students could raise Monarch butterflies. The classes also participated in the Monarch Watch tagging program to study the Monarch migration. In 2015 connecting with the Louisiana state tourism, I installed a "Monarch Waystation" garden at the Boyce Welcome Center, plus donated a variety of native plants for existing gardens at Jean Lafitte Barataria and I-55 Kentwood Visitor Centers. Now that I've retired, my 2023 project is Kick-Start the Migration, efforts to restore more native milkweed plantings on the western corridor of Louisiana from Breaux Bridge to Shreveport. Am spearheading the renewal of the Frank & Sara Gladney Memorial Garden at the Gloster Arboretum in Gloster, MS. Also, now working with the Sierra Club at the Sanctuary Restoration site in Metairie, LA to create a migratory nature preserve for butterflies and birds.
Having your efforts recognized is very fulfilling. Last year I was honored by the Louisiana Garden Club Federation, receiving the "Award of Commendation" for my butterfly work. At the next LA Master Naturalists meeting, I am thrilled to be receiving the Percy Viosca Award. My new mission statement is "Conservation, Education, Preservation".
Linda Auld "NOLA BugLady" - email@example.com