Help needed to help the Monarchs through winter

This topic contains 19 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  smithereen 3 years, 10 months ago.

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #44476

    Fran82_NZ
    Participant

    Hi folks, I’m brand new to this wonderful site & I hope some of you can assist me. I live in Auckland & like the rest of the country the temps are now dropping. I have 2 big swan plants in my garden and I’m surprised to see the caterpillars are still out there at this time of year, munching their way through the leaves, getting fat & turning into beautiful Monarchs. Sadly though, I am finding newly hatched Monarchs struggling to dry their wings in the damp cold air, lying on the grass, in the bottom of the garden, even attached to my screen door – I wonder if it’s just too cold for them to survive 🙁
    In a desperate attempt to help one last night I bought it indoors and fed it sugar water (which I read was quite a common way to feed them) and I released it back outside into the morning sun today and seemed to be doing alright.
    I know we can’t save them all, but if anyone can offer me some tips/advice/suggestions with regards to indoor housing/net castles, feeding, how long to keep them indoors to that you can give me to help these beautiful butterlies through the colder months.

    Thank you all,
    Fran

Viewing 19 replies - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)
  • Author
    Replies
  • #44641

    smithereen
    Participant

    Hi Everyone
    I live in Devonport and my plant has plenty of caterpillars. I have been trying to save the butterflies but it is not very successful so I have decided to just transfer them when they hatch in the rain or bad weather to my sheltered butterfly castle hanging open under a pergola and let them attempt to fly off when they are ready. I found it too stressful to try to save them all when it often didn’t work. Nice to see them when the wasps aren’t around but I did see bees annoying them and even eating the fallen crumpled ones. It’s tooth and claw out there! It is easy for me to get stressed and obsessive over saving them but it seems to be pointless to interfere too much. So I will leave them to it most of the time. My large bushes are in a sheltered hollow so I have caterpillars all year round. I also get heaps of wasps and they are not on my section but I can’t control the neighbouring gardens. I think this summer I will get a wasp trap and one of those zapping fly swats because it is a good day when I can take out a few wasps!

    #44590

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    Hi Fran – I have done this myself some years ago but wouldn’t do it now. For the amount of time it took I think it’s better to focus on healthy specimens and education. To be honest the MBNZT “business” keeps me far too busy to do anything more than let Nature take care of itself.

    But in answer to your question, if you wanted to keep wings my thoughts are that there shoudldn’t be anything in particular that you need to do to preserve them – just keep them flat and safe, rather like photographs.

    Hope that helps.

    Jacqui

    #44589

    Fran82_NZ
    Participant

    Hey Jacqui, I appreciate all your advice and guidance to help me look after the caterpillars and butterflies. I’ve adopted the freezer method for putting the less fortunate ones to sleep then I bury them under/around the swan plants – I want to try and not “waste” anything in this lovely cyclic process, it all goes back into mother nature.
    I’m hoping you can help me with another question I have, this time regarding butterfly wing surgery and how to keep/preserve the good, spare wings for use. I’ve watched 2 videos now about doing the procedure and I feel brave enough to attempt this if I watch and follow along with a video as guidance but I’m just wondering, how do you suggest keeping the replacement wings? Have you ever attempted this yourself? 🙂

    #44581

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    Great to hear, Christine – please send her to Blockhouse Bay when she’s finished!

    #44580

    christine marsh
    Participant

    Hi All

    We live in Balmoral and got a great lot of caterpillars who survived late Autumn and still have a lot of caterpillars and chrysalis coming through now. My children and I have been doing our best to help the ‘fallen’ new butterflies and they have been hanging out on our protected back deck with a few flower pots and fruit that we have put out. They seem to like ramming themselves into dark corners and staying still for days on end (hibernating??) ….. but then today we just photographed a beautiful female laying eggs all over our huge swan plant! The kids and I are soooo excited because she’s laid her eggs all over it – and not a wasp in site!!!
    We were so blown away by this. Have these beautiful creatures evolved so that they can avoid the dreaded wasp?
    I’m hoping that these babies will eat my huge swan plant to the ground – sooo thrilled. I’d like to attach the amazing photo I took of her laying her eggs today – the 27th of June!!

    FW:

    #44542

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    Different people do this in different ways – I usually put them into the freezer, where they “go to sleep” and will die in their sleep (probably not the scientific way of describing it).

    #44541

    Fran82_NZ
    Participant

    Hi again. I should have probably asked this earlier but can you suggest a humane way to help the butterflies out. Or do we just let them die in their on their own? One of the two I have inside is really not looking good his wings won’t open they are so badly crumpled and he’s trying so hard to fly but just ends up on the plastic bag covering the area. Could you suggest what you do in these instances. Thank you, Fran

    #44538

    Fran82_NZ
    Participant

    Thank you for the info Jacqui, that’s really good to know what the fluid is. The 2 had both hatched when I found them crumpled in a heap in the grass but I guess the fluid can still remain on their wings for hours, thankfully that has stopped now & they are hanging here in the warmth of the living room. I just hope they can fully extend & open their wings in the next day or 2. We do what we can to help them though

    #44537

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    One is dripping a lot of dye.. I’ve never seen this before so I hope this is normal. Either that or it’s blood.

    This is usually meconium, waste fluid, much like the afterbirth from human babies – but if there is a lot of it it could be that the chrysalis is “leaking” and the butterfly will be deformed.

    Remember, Michelle, that not every egg/caterpillar/chrysalis is destined to become a beautiful butterfly. They estimate that only 5% make it to maturity – so the weaker ones will become food for the soil or for predators or a host for parasites.

    #44529

    Fran82_NZ
    Participant

    Hiya Jacqui, thank you for that tip with the bags. I’ve just been out to check on my residents and found 2 newly hatched butterflies all crumpled up in the grass. So sad but I got them inside and they are both hanging from a branch I’ve put in a box for them. One is dripping a lot of dye.. I’ve never seen this before so I hope this is normal. Either that or its blood. Have you seen this happen before. The more I can learn the better. It’s just sad to see, it’s just too cold, wet & the windy for them and they struggle to survive .

    #44504

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    What I do Fran is just crumple up a plastic bag and nest it in the top of the vase. This makes for easy access to top up the water. And I’m never short of plastic bags! Gives them one more use in their “life” at my home… they go from the caterpillar castle to being the receptacle for canine frass (dog poo).

    #44503

    Fran82_NZ
    Participant

    Thank you for that Caryl. They really aren’t the brightest of creatures are they haha but I will certainly remember to use a protection/cover over the top of the vase. I’ll likely use some old curtain netting which I have, it’ll make for a soft landing 🙂

    #44498

    Caryl
    Moderator

    Hi Fran, A cautionary comment. If using a swan plant cutting in the castle in a vase be very careful as I have seen caterpillars fall and then drown in the water. Make sure the water is covered so that they can climb up onto the plant.
    Good luck, Caryl

    #44485

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    Most people have the potted swan plants inside the castle, so that when the caterpillar is ready, they climb to the roof and make their chrysalis there. But you could, as you say, prune the swan plants and stick the cut branch into a vase – quite often if you put water in the vase too, the cutting will take root and hey presto you’ll also have another plant!

    #44484

    Fran82_NZ
    Participant

    Hiya Caryl and Jacqui, great to get your messages with some awesome advice and suggestions. Ok I will definitely keep the castle inside then so it doesn’t get taken away by the wind. I can’t get my head around how you had 930, that’s incredible!! 🙂 I’ve counted approx. 8 or 9 chrysalises on my swan plants, nothing on yours though haha.
    Can I just ask – when you move your chrysalises into the castle, what are they attached to? Mine are attached to the stalks of the swan plans so would need to cut the stalks from the plant and place them inside the castle. I suppose that is alright to do as I’d never remove/pull the chrysalis from their white sticky “attachment” (sorry I don’t know it’s correct name).
    Thank you Jacqui for letting me know about the feeding and how the hatched butterflies don’t require for the first 24hours. I’ll be sure to get them outside in the daytime sun and fresh air so they can get familiar with their natural environment 🙂

    #44482

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    Fran – do remember though that butterflies don’t need to feed for the first 24 hours or so after they emerge from their chrysalis. They will know when the time is right – but if it’s warm indoors, of course, that will make them hungry.

    #44479

    Caryl
    Moderator

    Fran, I am in Wellington and have some caterpillars and chrysalises. I recommend you bring the chrysalises inside (by the way inside in Wellington without heating is cool). I have seen butterflies eclosing blown by the wind onto the ground where they cannot dry their wings and perish. Once born inside and dry you can release them outside in a protected space where they are not exposed to wind and rain and they can fly when they are ready. I have had more than 930 butterflies born this season. But it is hard for chrysalises to remain healthy in this weather and deformities within the chrysalides are common. Let us know how it goes and thank you for caring so much. Caryl

    #44478

    Fran82_NZ
    Participant

    Hiya Jacqui,

    Thank you for your reply, I appreciate you taking time to help me. Yes I’ve had a browse through as much as I’ve had time to this afternoon and found out about feeding honey water and where it helps to keep them. I actually discovered the caterpillar castles yesterday on Trademe! 🙂 I’m going to purchase one too! They are so neat, I’ve never actually seen them before and it’s just the thing I was looking for to help “house” the butterflies. I was just wondering though, is it ok to put a couple of butterflies into the Large one instead of the Jumbo. I don’t have a whole lot of room and I will likely tuck it down the side of the house out of the wind and rain once they’ve first hatched.
    Thank you so much Jacqui, Fran

    #44477

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    Hello Fran

    By now you’ve probably read some of the posts about this in the forum. Hope so!

    It’s not too cold for them to survive – but the whole process does slow down considerably because it’s cold and there’s less sunlight – so if you can bring them into a warm room with a potted plant. Have you seen the caterpillar castles we stock? This is an excellent device to help you. And remember, when the butterfly emerges, it needs to sense that it is midwinter so put it somewhere outside (indoors is “summery” – warm and bright) where it will get maximum sunlight and shelter from wind/rain, and it will adjust to the temperatures and fly away to an overwintering site.

    Hope that is helpful. Here’s a link to the caterpillar castles we sell.

    Caterpillar Castles

Viewing 19 replies - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.