I am the BugLady of New Orleans 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 has been my daily routine for 40 years. "You buy it, you apply it!" At the 6444 Jefferson Highway, Harahan, location you can purchase pest-control products, but you can also visit the "Learning Room" where I raise my live butterflies, moths, and beetles.
I have been a Caterpillar Mama for over 40 years now and have raised 126 species of butterflies and moths, photographing and studying the life cycles of these insects. For the last 26 years, summer weekends have been spent counting butterflies for the North American Butterfly Association on field trips to some local spots like Honey Island swamp and Bonnet Carre Spillway but also out-of-town wildlife management areas in Starkville, Vicksburg, and Gloster, Mississippi, as well as Tallahassee, Florida.
Through the years, I have participated in the Monarch butterfly tagging programs sponsored by Dr. Fred Urquhart through the University of Toronto as well as Monarch Watch in Lawrence, Kansas.
Several of my articles on both butterfly gardening and pest-control topics have been published in Louisiana Gardener magazine, and the newsletters of Baton Rouge Audubon Society as well as the Louisiana Native Plant Society.
I have traveled near and far promoting butterfly gardening at every opportunity: at schools, garden clubs, plant societies, scouts and more. For seven years I also ran "Bug Lady Farms," raising butterflies for release at special events and supplying assorted local butterflies for the Audubon Institute's "Butterflies in Flight" exhibit.
In 2014 I became Louisiana's milkweed seed distributor, creating a seed label, and packaging then marketing them. With the help of 10 local New Orleans area garden centers I was able to distribute over 120,000 seeds! In fall 2014 my butterfly program, "Project : MONARCH", installed butterfly gardens in 16 schools so that the teachers and hundreds of students could raise Monarch butterflies. We also participated in the Monarch Watch tagging program to study the Monarch migration, tagging 200 butterflies before they were released.
In 2015 I promoted milkweed seed packs in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, increasing the number of participating distributor stores from 10 to 20. Connecting with the Louisiana state tourism, I installed a good-sized "Monarch Waystation" butterfly garden at the Boyce Welcome Center located on I-49 north of Alexandria. I also donated a variety of native and tropical milkweed plants to be added to existing gardens at two other welcome centers located at Jean Lafitte Barataria and I-55 Kentwood. Eight of the 16 schools are continuing with "Help bring back the monarchs!" program where the students will focus their studies on native and tropical milkweeds. My mission statement is "I sell death for pests but promote life for the rest!"