Here are some points to help ensure you don’t experience poisoned caterpillars and/or butterflies this summer.
Firstly, it helps to establish your swan plant (milkweed) earlier in the summer, so that when the Monarch butterflies return to lay eggs on your plants, your plants are well-established.
o Seeds are available from us – look in the ‘Members’ area.
We have several kinds of milkweed, one species of which is the swan plant, but others may be more suited to your climate.
o Sow and share as many as you can. sow directly in the garden when soil is warmer. For earlier sowings use seed mix in egg cartons or similar, and cover with a light sprinkling of topsoil. Keep moist and warm. Transplant when seedings are 5-10cm tall. Protect from snails and slugs.
o Once seedlings establish and produce laterals (side-shoots) pinch the tips out to encourage branching and bushiness.
o Plant more plants. Cover some (old net curtain, mosquito net etc) to encourage female butterflies to lay elsewhere. Uncover them later in the season.
o NEVER use pesticides in your own garden.
o Use only organic products. Ask for a data sheet to ensure there is no side effects for insects.
BUYING FROM A GARDEN CENTRE
– Ask questions
o Do you use pesticides?
o Are your plants covered when you spray?
o Does your supplier use pesticides?
– Check for signs
o White dust on leaves
o Spots of discolouration
CATERPILLAR BEHAVIOUR IF PLANTS ARE SPRAYED
o won’t move onto the plant
o will drop off plant and/or writhe on the ground. Do not put them back!
o may exude green fluid – look for stains on plants and/or caterpillars
IF YOU BUY SPRAYED PLANTS…
o If you were told they were NOT sprayed, take them back, with evidence, e.g. sick caterpillars, plants with stains
o Ask that plants be removed from sale
o Ask for a refund, NOT replacement plants