Pumpkin as an alternative food source

I quote from his letter:

“…we have produced some 150 butterflies per season. Last season (spring/summer) we had such a massive crop of caterpillars that they stripped the Swan plant bushes very rapidly leaving us the likelihood of losing several hundred butterflies!

I had read somewhere that pumpkin was a suitable food replacement, so tried this alternative. After a little trial and error I found that fine slivers of pumpkin placed flat on the bottom of a box with the caterpillars placed on the internal cut edge produced the best results. It also became evident fairly early on that very small caterpillars did not have the strength or intestinal fortitute to make the change.

I have enclosed several photos of last year’s problems!

We have butterflies around the property most of the year and always hoping that the Swan plant growth will be sufficient to cope with the breeding season.”

cats on pumpkin.jpg

box of cats on pumpkin.jpg

Thanks Alex! Great to hear it. I have tried it in the past with not too much success, although caterpillars in their last instar (after they shed their skin for the fourth time) are certainly the ones to try it with. I’ll be trying it your way this summer!  


  1. Baldy
    Posted April 2, 2017 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    We are feeding pumpkin.as there is no leaves left on the swan plants. The caterpillars eat it all right. They eat capsicum leaves but aren’t that keen on them.
    I heard pumpkin makes them sterile, is that true.
    cheers to all…

  2. Posted April 2, 2017 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Pumpkin is not the best, Baldy. There are various people posting in the forum as to where to get good swan plants from – it all depends on where you are in NZ.

    If you feed them pumpkin you will more than likely find the caterpillars cannot make their chrysalis OR that the butterflies don’t emerge properly.

    Do check out our forum.

One Trackback

  1. By A Menu for Monarchs « Te Papa’s Blog on January 26, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    […] still sceptical, check out what the Monarch Butterfly NZ trust has to say on the subject here: https://www.monarch.org.nz/2005/08/13/pumpkin/ […]

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