|Photos by Melissa Donald|
Blair Leano-Helvey flits around the insectarium like the moths and butterflies that surround her. Dozens of wings flutter and skim the netting of the tents; the butterflies reveal their gorgeous wingspans and copulate freely. Blair, too, bats her wings against their tents as she lovingly tends to them: pouring Gatorade onto paper towels for their nourishment, spraying them down with water, crooning over their beauty and behaviors within as if they were her own children.
“Come here,” she says, motioning to me enthusiastically. “That is butterfly sex, riiiiight there!” She points. “We love sex here! Look at you,” she croons adoringly to the attached pair. Then she turns toward me to explain, “If they aren’t mating, there’s no paycheck!”
|(L-R) Outside of butterfly house; Zebra Tail butterfly; inside butterfly house|
|(L-R) Monarch caterpillar. The mesh enclosure hold Monarch butterflies that have hatched and Monarch Chrysalis.|
Blair motions me over to a large aquarium filled with giant Malaysian walking sticks about the length of my forearm. “Want to hold it?” she asks, eyes wide with inquiry. I pause and nod reluctantly. “See? We get bug-lovers out of the closet.”
|Blair has a variety of encased beetles.|
What is this bug-lover reading, watching, and listening to?
As an entrepreneur and mother, Blair does not have time for much pleasure reading. Lately, however, she has been consumed with reading scientific journals about the progressive green industry and tends to keep up with the University of Kentucky’s Agricultural Journal.
She is interested in the research surrounding the medical benefits of cannabis. This website Cannabisscience.com has inspired her to speak out about this topic. “A lot of these things [like the medical benefits of marijuana] I never used to talk about, but why not?” she says. “It’s bulls*** not to, is how I see it. If it’s on this earth, it has a purpose.”
|Blair holds a Mourning Cloak butterfly.|
This butterfly lady doesn’t watch a lot of mainstream media and instead likes to take time to marvel at the beautiful network of life in nature. But every nature lover has her 21st-century weaknesses. Here’s a list of what Blair is binge-watching these days:
- Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
- Ancient Aliens (History Channel)
- Reruns of Golden Girls and Little House on the Prairie. “I could take a trivia test on these shows and ace it!” Blair says.
With a former background in classical music, Blair’s music tastes are quite diverse. Visit her butterfly haven in Shelby Park, and you just might hear:
- Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart
- The Sugarhill Gang
- Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Nothing Fancy