Monarch caterpillars, out of food, Wellington

This topic contains 17 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Caryl 1 year, 4 months ago.

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  • #51866

    AllanD
    Participant

    We have a colony of Monarch caterpillars who have eaten themselves out of house and home. Does anyone near Woodman Drive, Tawa, Wellington have any to spare?

Viewing 17 replies - 1 through 17 (of 17 total)
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  • #52000

    Caryl
    Moderator

    Hi Again Karen, FYI aphids will eventually kill swan plants. I also have seen caterpillars on roses and even making their chrysalides there so I would not plant swans anywhere near your precious lambs nor near roses which attract aphids. Ladybugs deal to aphids but the process is very slow in my garden as I don’t have many ladybirds. I believe the sap is toxic, is it really poisonous for farm animals. I can’t imagine they would enjoy the taste and we have to be careful not to get the sap on our hands and rub our eyes. Most parts of the kowahi are toxic yet I have had cats make their chrysalides on it and monarchs often hang from kowhais. So much to learn and be aware of. I am off to vist my swan plants, one patch anyway, and use detergent to deter aphids. Have a lovely evening. Caryl

    #51998

    struanfarm
    Participant

    Hi Caryl,
    Thanks for the reply. Sounds like a good idea with respect to the netting. My husband will roll his eyes but I can see it working to ration the food source and also where eggs get laid when. Right now I still have about 20 caterpillars surviving on the plant but not much is left, they’re eating the seed pods. Two are eating the pumpkins pieces I put on the ground and several are heading off to other pastures. Tomorrow I hope to find a few more plants when in town, fingers crossed.

    I’ve just read that swan plant is poisonous to stock/sheep, so I’m going to need to be careful about where I put the plants in the gardens. The pet lambs in particular lean over the fence to munch roses and dahlias as it is, don’t want them nibbling swan plants for several reasons! Perhaps the swan plants will attract the aphids and keep them off the roses, yet another bonus. Kind regards, struanfarm/Karen

    #51997

    Caryl
    Moderator

    Struanfarm, Lovely to meet you here and your property sounds amazing. I am in Wellington. This season I have a tally of almost 500 butterflies and about 1200 eggs sent to the South Island to assist colonies there – I brought in every healthy chrysalis I could see as I had predators about who took my first ones – I think rats. I would suggest you plant a series of patches of swan plants. That way you an choose to cover a couple of patches with netting to deter monarchs from laying and when one patch is eaten you have another or others to use. Also you could control aphids better doing this too. There’s both heartbreak and joy in assisting monarchs as you will find out.Lucky you having a glasshouse. In Wellington I cannot get my plants large enough before the first eggs are laid – usually the first week in September. It is always a challenge. Best wishes, Caryl

    #51994

    struanfarm
    Participant

    Thanks Jacqui. We’re on a 60 acre rural property in the King Country with lots of established gardens, QEII native bush reserves, river, ponds, paddocks. We have lots of good things (bees, bumblebees, butterflies, native birds) and also some bad things (some wasps but not seeing many this year, feral rabbits, turkeys and goats). I wouldn’t be spreading the seed around but rather growing plants from seed in my glasshouse and then planting them out in the garden areas (where I can control them from becoming weeds around the farm, to be honest). I was reading the comments about everyone being short of swan plant for food, and have had the same experience myself with only 1-2 monarchs about and a huge established plant. So was wondering “what’s enough” to avoid a food crisis. I guess one doesn’t know until you get through the season either way. cheers.

    #51993

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    Hi Struanfarm

    We’re always kind in here. And there’s no such thing as a dumb question – that’s how we all learn.

    There’s no optimum ratio. We need to be thinking about the COMMUNITY in which the monarch lives, not just the butterfly and the swan plant. You see the more swan plants you have, the more likely that monarchs and aphids and other predators and parasites of the plant… and of the monarch… will arrive.

    If you plant one swan plant in your garden monarchs will find it but it’s less easy to find than planting 20 swan plants because the smell is concentrated. 20 swan plants will get more eggs than 20 single swan plants scattered in different places in a street or neighbourhood. You will also be more likely to attract more aphids. More aphids will usually attract more ladybirds (or other aphid predators/parasites). More monarchs will attract more wasps (in season).

    Of course I’m generalising here. You might be in a part of the world where there are NO monarchs, or wasps or whatever. But can you see the logic in what I’m saying?

    So in my opinion rather than thinking in terms of monarchs and swan plants, we need to be more accepting of the whole monarch community or ecosystem – and figure out ways in which we can deter the ones we don’t want (aphids, wasps, praying mantises etc). My suggestion would be to yes, scatter the seeds around the garden where you don’t mind if swan plants come up – but not just in the back of the gardens – in as many different parts of your property as you are happy to do so.

    Hope that helps.

    I will be interested to hear others’ suggestions, as they may well differ to mine. I’m not saying I’m right but that’s the way I see it.

    Cheers

    Jacqui

    #51991

    struanfarm
    Participant

    Can I ask anyone if there’s an optimal butterfly/swan plant ratio? We only had 1-2 monarchs in our gardens this year, but the caterpillars have eaten our huge swan plant down to stubs. I’ve got space to grow more plants in the back of the gardens and will save the seed pods to do so next year, but it almost feels like it could become an endless circle after this experience. Thoughts? I’m a newbie so please be kind.

    #51977

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    Chay73 – if you would like me to send you some eggs let me know Contact me on jacqui@monarch.org.nz

    #51976

    Chay73
    Participant

    I’m in Dunedin happy to pay for the courier

    #51926

    rob cooper
    Participant

    people need to work out how many there plants can hold all very well getting so many then saying we got no more food for them errrrr

    #51925

    rob cooper
    Participant

    im happy to take some extra cats im in nelson you must put them overnight courier only with some food my contact no is 0274425873 text or ring is best

    #51917

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    We have been running a series of Tips on our Facebook page

    MBNZT on FB

    I summarised them all here:

    Tips for Busy Monarch Lovers

    To be honest I think it’s going to be hard work finding much swan plant/milkweed in garden centres for the remainder of this season and I urge you all to conserve as much food as what you have – and also to increase your supplies where you can.

    I’m about to post another tip in Facebook and this one will say NOT to pull out any little swan plants growing in lawns or places where you don’t want them. They may well satisfy a caterpillar for half a day and you’ll be grateful of them all.

    We have some nice plants for sale (Blockhouse Bay, Auckland). If you’re not in Auckland, you could perhaps band together with some other locals in the same predicament and phone someone like The Plant Place, Hamilton, to see if they might ship you some established plants down.

    Good luck everyone!

    #51903

    CatherineH
    Participant

    Where are you based Chay73?

    #51889

    Chay73
    Participant

    I’m keen for some catipillars.

    #51886

    CatherineH
    Participant

    I have extra cat’s if you have the food for them. Mine are mostly 2nd and 3rd instar.

    #51885

    CatherineH
    Participant

    I’m happy to courier some cat’s. Have you done this and which company did you use?

    #51871

    rob cooper
    Participant

    overnite courier to nelson if you run out of choices

    #51868

    FiLeBeau
    Participant

    Hi- how many catz do you have and what size?
    Im happy to take some of your hands but my plants are in ground – or about to be dug in.
    Fi

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