Attracting Red Admiral butterflies

This topic contains 12 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Terry 5 years, 3 months ago.

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #38422

    teecee47
    Participant

    Looking for plants other than Urtica for attracting red admirals. Can anyone help me please

Viewing 12 replies - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
  • Author
    Replies
  • #38459

    Terry
    Moderator

    Yes Errol, as you stated it is a shame indeed! The really stupid thing is that the powers that be in New Zealand are also hoodwinking the general public in to thinking they are taking action to protect species when in fact they are making things worse by sleight of hand. It is now against the law to export Vanessa Gonerrila to other countries and the Government calls this a conservation move. But all sensible enthusiasts know that these and many other species are easy to breed in captivity and in huge numbers. Take my Yellow Admiral project as one example! The collection and export of a few V Gonerrila eggs or larvae could never cause any significant harm. However the destruction of it’s food-plants in it’s native land will ultimately have a devastating effect. In the EU countries we also have been down this route and it helped neither the endangered species given protection or those engaged in research to try and conserve it! The only thing that will save these species ultimately will be protection of and enhancement of the natural habitat and that will never happen against the wishes of corporations and other vested interests or cost to the general taxpayer. The government will only listen to the “Bunny Hugging” section of the community because the solutions they come up with cost next to nothing to implement and get the Government off the hook because it makes them appear to be at least doing something even if it causes more harm than good.

    #38449

    Errol
    Moderator

    As a follow on to the last two postings (Terry and Norm) – on the TV news last night there was an item comparing NZ to other countries in the world for conservation and protection of native specie. Apparently there are 193 countries in the world and to our great shame NZ ranks as 193rd in the conservation and protection of our indigenous flora and fauna specie. So yes indeed the future of so many of them looks very bleak indeed – including the Red Admirals to name just one specie.

    #38448

    Terry
    Moderator

    Yes Norm, it is very sad to think that a country like New Zealand with such a special Red Admiral cannot even protect it’s native food-plant. The attitude toward nettles and the propaganda about the dangers are all part and parcel of the Agricultural lobby which is very powerful in your country. In the UK Urtica Dioica is so common that wiping it out is difficult but I have no doubts that if through genetic engineering a company found a way to completely eradicate it, the Government would allow it’s use and sacrifice our native nettle feeding butterflies. As sad as the facts are, I have learned during my 53 years on this planet that the quest for profit and power trump all common sense. They allowed and even encouraged our Farmers to destroy our wildlife friendly old style of farming for prairie type farming back in the 1970s and no amount of campaigning by those who predicted the damage it would cause made any difference. It’s never been a case of what you know, but who you know, and if they have the money they have all the influence.

    #38446

    NormTwigge
    Keymaster

    Wow Terry, that is an awesome supply of nettle. Now if NZ had areas like that maybe the Red Admiral would not be in danger of declining, and restricted largely to forested areas.
    But as Pepetuna points out the European nettles have been branded as weeds and pest plants, even although our native nettles can inflict the same sting. Weeds are plants that butterflies rely on, even the “Swanplant” which everyone lovingly grows for the Monarchs is a weed in its original country, the name “milkweeds” emphasising this.
    The native Ongaonga is sprayed/removed if it dares to flourish anywhere near tramping tracks, and clearing areas for farming will reduce it even further, so the decline in the Red Admiral population will undoubtedly continue, and follow the trend of eventual decline of animals species around the globe.

    #38440

    Terry
    Moderator

    In response to Norm Twigge.
    My results with both Boehmeria and Parietaria match yours perfectly, including that last year I managed to get Vanessa Itea larvae through to 3rd instar on Parietaria judaica. I am trying at this time to rear the larvae on it, with worse results than last summer. There is a chance that in really hot climates because the larva’s metabolism would be speeded up they could cope better with the plant chemicals and this could be why in Australia, Vanessa Itea larvae are often reported feeding on Parietaria judaica. As I cannot afford to go see for myself this will remain a mystery until someone tests the theory out and publishes the results. I would not be surprised if there is no difference, as most books say that Vanessa Itea in Australia is found mainly in areas which have Urtica species in them, as well as Parietaria judaica.
    I have never tried feeding either Vanessa Itea or Vanessa Atalanta on Soleirolia solierolii, however it would not surprise me if Vanessa Atalanta survived on it as it thrives on Pellitory species.
    Norm is also quite correct that Nettles are not a problem and quite safe to handle apart from U Ferox which has a nastier sting than the other species. Many New Zealanders would be amazed at how common Urtica Dioica is in the UK. Where I live in the South East nearly every farmland field and roadside has them growing along the margins. Fields left as waste ground and not cultivated and many River Banks on the more unspoilt stretches where there are no footpaths are often bordered by huge beds of nettles. People get stung all the time especially Anglers who hack their way through them to get to the waters edge to fish.

    Here is a photo of me walking through a bed of Urtica Dioica in a local field looking for Peacock larvae in June a couple of years ago. This should give you an idea about how common nettles are over here and why there is no reason to fear them or the stings which wear off really quickly.

    DSC01436

    Click on picture to enlarge

    #38439

    NormTwigge
    Keymaster

    I have done trials on Parietaria debilis several times, and all with the same result. The Yellow Admiral will lay eggs on it, but when the larvae reach 2nd instar, and only once to 3rd instar, the larvae leave the plant looking for something else. Another plant I have had Y.A. eggs on is Baby’s Tears (Soleirolia solierolii) with an even smaller leaf, the larvae leaving this plant at an even earlier stage.

    These plants may lack the necessary chemical content for the larvae to successfully complete their growth, and also the fact that because the leaf is so small the larger larvae would have trouble trying to fold a leaf/leaves to conceal themselves. I have several records of Yellow Admirals reared through to adults on Parietaria judaica, which is not a particularly common plant here in NZ.
    I did try the False Nettle Boehmeria cylindrica several years back and found neither of our Admirals would lay on it, and newly hatched larvae would not touch it.

    So anyone looking for something other than nettles for the Red Admiral will be disappointed. Bees and wasps sting, their sting is far worse than nettles and we live with them, so I cannot really see what the problem is with nettles. Nettles in the ground can have a barrier around them if children are a concern, but I handle nettles regularly, including Urtica ferox (Ongaonga) without gloves and don’t have a problem, although a little more care with the latter.

    #38430

    Pepetuna
    Keymaster

    Thanks Bernie and Terry. That was my understanding too, Terry, that you needed nettles here in NZ for our Admirals. I remember asking Norm about it when I came back from the States where they grow Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta) on False Nettle (which doesn’t sting). I think Norm did some trials on pellitory, but can’t remember the details.

    Bernie, “Pest plants” in New Zealand are what used to be called Noxious weeds, and there is a list of them, the National Pest Plant Accord. In Regional Councils around the country, the status of plants can vary. You aren’t allowed to sell, propagate, or distribute them, but there are levels/degrees of “pestiness” that mostly seem to involve whose responsibility it is to control them. For us butterfly people, we need to be aware that some species of buddleia and lantana are pest plants, and so are ragwort and moth vine, and even the European nettle Urtica dioica. But depends where you live.

    #38429

    Terry
    Moderator

    New Zealand Red Admirals v gonerilla will not lay eggs on or it’s larvae eat Pellitory. The Yellow Admiral v itea is reported to lay eggs on it but the larvae struggle to survive on it. For both the New Zealand Admirals you need Stinging nettles, either u ferox, u Incisa, u australis, u urens or u dioica. Our Red Admiral vanessa atalanta thrives on pellitory. The Indian Red Admiral or the subspecies most bred in the UK and gathered in the Canary Islands by enthusiasts “vanessa indica vulcania” is mostly found and feeds on nettles and rarely on Pellitory.

    #38428

    Bernie
    Member

    Hi Pepetuna
    I always raise our red admirals on wall pellitory and have done it countless times.It is all over the place in my garden.I personally don’t view it as a pest and it is very easy to hoe out and transplants into pots very well

    #38426

    Pepetuna
    Keymaster

    Thanks Bernie. I stand corrected: Pellitory of the wall (Parieteria judaica), a weed also known as Sticky weed is noted as an alternative host plant on the Naturewatch website http://naturewatch.org.nz/taxa/43363-Parietaria-judaica
    Note that this weed is a pest plant in some areas. There is also a native pellitory, Parietaria debilis. I think Norm Twigge has done some trials on it as a host plant. Is that right Norm?

    I’m very interested to know if anyone has successfully raised either Red or Yellow Admirals on either of these plants. I would love not to be stung all the time!

    #38425

    Bernie
    Member

    Our red admiral in GB (V. atalanta) feeds and lays on wall pellitory which has the added advantage that it doesn’t sting you as well. Several years ago, I also got Vanessa indica larvae from the levadas in Madeira and I am pretty sure that that was on wall pellitory as well.

    I would be very surprised if your red admiral did not lay and feed on it.

    #38423

    Pepetuna
    Keymaster

    You can attract Red Admirals into your garden with nectar plants such as hebes, lantana, buddleia etc, but Urtica species are the only host plants for the caterpillars. Doesn’t have to be Urtica ferox though, any nettles will do, such as Urtica incisa, Urtica urens, Urtica australis or Urtica dioica. You can sometimes buy nettle plants at garden centres, and you can buy the seeds from the MBNZT shop https://www.monarch.org.nz/items-for-sale/seeds/ or through Trademe.

Viewing 12 replies - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.