Where are the monarchs?

This topic contains 45 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  Debbie 1 month, 1 week ago.

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  • #53948

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    We are hearing many people asking “where are the monarchs” this season… Are YOU concerned?

    If you are – you can help us raise awareness and concern. Here’s how:

    On the next “fine” day (no good if it’s very wet) when you are outside and you see other insects such as bees, bumble bees flying, take a note of whether you see any monarchs.

    When you are near your computer, please report what you saw or didn’t see in to http://www.mb.org.nz. This will help us quantify whether the issue is just local or regional or… something else.

    Thanks! And feel free to share this important message please.

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 45 total)
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  • #55291

    Debbie
    Participant

    I have over 50 pupae in Torbay. About 10 days ago I saw one waiting to pupate down low on a swan plant trunk early one morning. I went back to check on it after work. There was no sign of it, not even the stalk, but there were a bunch of scratches right through the bark of the trunk where the caterpillar had been. It looked like a toothed or clawed animal had taken it. Today I came back from a trip away to see another pupa hanging down low under a fence board which looks like it has been chewed on. I’m wondering if it’s a rat, cat or bird.

    I keep the wasp population down as low as I can by always carrying a butterfly net when I’m in the yard. I usually kill 4-6 on a weekend day.

    #55270

    LeslieD
    Moderator

    https://monarchbutterflygarden.net/common-monarch-diseases-prevention/ its in this list. Its a vile condition. Yes they go off eating and go black before oozing black liquid and dying. I was surprised to see it this early and on an outside caterpillar too.

    #55258

    monkey
    Participant

    What is the ‘black death’ referred to by Leslie?

    Is it where the cats become very thin, with the black stripes more prominent, followed by either an anal ooze & death, or they just fall off their food source & die? I have had several cats doing this.

    #55233

    LeslieD
    Moderator

    I struck the problem again with calculating latitude etc … even though its accepted that address before. anyway I’m seeing multiple butterflies in garden a day now, laying eggs, nectaring and drinking dew off the grass. And seeing more than one when out in Karori too. Only had one incident of disease so far and that was ‘black death’ of one of the outside cats. Other than that they are all very healthy looking.

    #55224

    monkey
    Participant

    There are quite a few Monarchs flying around in the garden, engaging with each other then flying off obviously disappointed! Some stop by on my large swan plants & look as tho they are laying eggs, but more often that not there is nothing there when I look. Very few eggs, but the ones there are I take inside in case of predators.
    The few cats I have don’t seem to be very lively despite having fresh food every day. Some look thin, & the black stripes stand out, & often they wander around aimlessly then die.
    I had a very good start to the season, & am not doing anything different in raising them. I don’t handle them at all, just put fresh food in front of them & let them walk on, then remove the old stuff & frass. I have 4 pupae, & 1 eclosed today, a healthy female.
    Hoping for more luck with the eggs I have indoors…..
    Still can’t ‘report a butterfly’

    #55213

    Miranda
    Participant

    I have had 3-5 butterflies hanging around the garden every day for the past few weeks. I only had a few return to lay eggs at the end of winter (around October I think it was?) but the season was very slow to get started compared to previous years here (Papakura, Auckland). Three butterflies eclosed this morning (one was “wild” while the other two were from caterpillars raised in “semi-captivity”).

    I collected some eggs in early December to see if there was a problem with eggs hatching like there was earlier in 2018 but the ~99% hatch rate shows that wasn’t the case. Thanks to the lacklustre end to last season and a mild winter, the garden has a lot of tall swan plants but there are very few caterpillars making it to chrysalis stage compared to previous years. I think it’s a predator problem but which predator I’m not sure yet (perhaps it’s just the combination of wasps looking for protein already and other predator numbers being high due to the relatively mild winter). I saw several paper wasps collecting small caterpillars over Christmas already – it seems really early for that to be happening compared to previous seasons.

    I have been collecting eggs/small caterpillars and putting them in a small greenhouse (the kind you can buy from The Warehouse etc.) on the deck. It’s still open and therefore accessible to the same predators as on the plants (which are only 2m away from the greenhouse), but I’m getting ~100% of the caterpillars to chrysalis stage in there. (I have had to remove one wasp and several small praying mantises over the past few weeks.) Green looper caterpillars are at infestation levels in my garden this year and I have been removing those from the swan plant cuttings I’m feeding my caterpillars on – why these don’t seem to be struggling while the monarch caterpillars are, I don’t know.

    #55212

    FiLeBeau
    Participant

    Numbers of Monarchs are very low this year in Kapiti.
    And no sightings of Red Admirals as yet.
    I have released 78 Monarchs (ratio about 2-male to 3-females). Plus one from Wellington.
    The last few years I have released two to three hundred by this time.

    Last year I rehomed 300+ caterpillars to Welligton higher altitude suburbs over Christmas thanks to help from Leslie. And I kept about 300 on site here.
    We had about 1800+ over the season (I dont have my log here so cant give the actual number).
    I had only two winter overs return this year – both female. Then my teen neighbour brought back 5 caterpillars from Katikati (2 femailes) – hence the 78 to be released.
    They have laid fertile eggs and I have nealy 200 caterpillars now for the next round.
    I dont have as many plants this year so I wil reach a limit sooner than ususal.
    Fiona

    #55211

    Caryl
    Moderator

    Hi Jacqui, I haven’t completed the survey because I interrupt the cycle with either culling eggs or previously sending them to 2 people n the south island. I can say approx 10-11 butterflies linger in my garden every day now, the eggs were laid the same week as they have been laid for the past 6 years and I have many cats at all stages but no chrysalides yet (due to sending 108 eggs south early in the season). I can provide comparisons for the past few years on the same dates (number of butterflies emerged)as I document each season. Caryl

    #55209

    kay2
    Participant

    Have seen only 2 Monarchs in waipukurau so far. Could’nt get this address to go through on the link.

    #55187

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    Still asking people to report what they’ve got via mb.org.nz.

    Also, contemplating doing another survey as to who has caterpillars and pupae (that gives us an indication as to what was happening 2-3 weeks ago and where.

    Glad to hear that you’re doing so well, Leslie.

    #55179

    LeslieD
    Moderator

    are you still looking for individual sightings Jacqui or just an update? I’ve got about 45 chrysalids (be more in the bushes) and released another female today. I’ve got several hanging round laying eggs and I’m starting to see them when i’m out and about in Karori. So a late start (released 10 to date of generation 1) but another week or two and it should be all go here. seeing a decent amount of admirals too though I don’t seem to have anything happening on my nettles. lots of whites and few other species as well.

    #54876

    FiLeBeau
    Participant

    KAPITI UPDATE
    Monarchs usually show up in Kapiti mid to late December. This year the numbers are down.
    I have released 78 Monarchs since 12th December after (only) two winter over females turned up looking ragged, and 5 catz from Kati-Kati eclosed (2 female) that were brought here by a neighbour’s teenager and given to me to care for.
    They tend to lay eggs and then disperse, but unusually there are very few eggs.
    I currently only have 12 small catz that Ive taken off outdoor plants and moved to the large shadehouse.

    I remove predators on a daily basis but the earwigs and slugs are prevalent this year. Plus there are the usual spiders, weta, mantis, wasps… And a newbie for me – a couple of large, oval, speckled roach looking bugs about 2cms long. I removed a predatory wasp nest from the garden two weeks ago and am always on the lookout for them.

    Aphids are in my medium shadehouse – I am washing plants every week with sunlight soap and squash every 3rd day, giving them a break from the beastly things. A few aphids have moved into the large shadehouse but I squash them most days.

    Ive been given 7 large caterpillars to care for – one went J last evening.
    So hopefully the numbers of Monarchs will soon increase. I bring the pupae inside – as there is wind to deal with too, as well as predators.

    Heres to success – and to all your great work everyone!
    Fiona

    #54425

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    Hugo – it could also be infertie eggs… You could try collecting a few and putting them in a takeaway food container on a damp towel with a swan plant leaf or two and see what has happened a few days later.

    #54388

    hugo
    Participant

    I am in the Omokoroa area. The lack of cats has also been noticed at Te Puna Quarry

    #54387

    hugo
    Participant

    I have released over 160 butterflies over the past 5 weeks and there are often 10 or more fluttering around my garden. Despite eggs being laid there have been virtually no cats and the few that I find are large. I presume then that predators are taking eggs and small cats with just a very small number growing to full term. There have certainly been plenty of praying mantis and paper wasps (though only around on fine days). I wonder what else may be predating. Perhaps with the slow start to breeding there has not been the number of eggs to survive the predators. The weather conditions may have led to greater number of predators.

    #54333

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    Merry Christmas Caryl… and a Happy New Year

    #54332

    Caryl
    Moderator

    I checked my database for last years’ butterfly numbers – 231 in Seatoun at this date (21/12/17) and 143 this year.Sadly I have culled some eggs since my plants that were eaten were too small but now they are growing well and I inherited 35 one metre tall ones this week so it’s all go now. I checked the gender numbers and slightly more males, 6, than females both years.
    Happy Christmas season everyone. Caryl (Seatoun, Wellington)

    #54299

    Jacqui
    Keymaster

    I hope you’re right, Leslie!

    Hugo… how is it down Tauranga way? Have things come right for you and others?

    I’m holidaying in Dunedin.. no monarchs here that I’ve seen but the weather hasn’t been conducive to flying butterflies so far.

    #54281

    LeslieD
    Moderator

    Well I predict Welly will all change for the better in the next few weeks. With Caryls industrial production of butterflys and people like me on a rather smaller scale with 50+ caterpillars doing very well + some new eggs and a few butterflys ready to make an appearance in the next week or so … the higher suburbs are always later. I had a few more away by xmas last year but they were from immigrant caterpillars I’d taken from up the coast from Fiona and a few that Caryl let me have to get started.

    #54277

    JaniceS
    Participant

    I have spotted only 2 monarchs and one yellow admiral at or near my house in lower Brooklyn, Wellington – and one monarch where I regularly record them in Levin – for all of December so far. I had at least half a dozen overwinter near my Brooklyn place.

    #54270

    LeslieD
    Moderator

    Alliemac check out neighborly ..there is someone bringing in good big plants for a good price regularly. Also mitre10 crofton downs are selling good plants for $4.95, they are a reasonable size and I got a couple and put them aside a couple of weeks. Since then a couple of cats have latched onto them and they are fine to feed.

    #54239

    Caryl
    Moderator

    Hello Alliemac, I am in Seatoun, Wellington, and wonder what suburb you are in. As normal I got monarch eggs the first week of September and the past 2 weeks I have had 120 monarchs eclose, mostly inside. I take chrysalides in, especially the first ones of the season and thus protect them from predators. I also sent 108 eggs to a contact in Greymouth who reported they were the most fertile he had had from me and approx 50 butterflies eclosed. I have now some new eggs from the butterflies I released. Do let us know how the season goes for you and may female butterflies visit your garden soon. My swan plants are growing quite well after most were pretty eaten. I now have plenty of new swan plants for the next generation. Warm regards, Caryl

    #54238

    Alliemac
    Participant

    Should have added that I live in Wellington.

    #54237

    Alliemac
    Participant

    I have sighted no monarchs for months in my garden or in the district. Hopefully they will appear soon. Admittedly my swan plants are puny as they do not seem to have grown much. Shall have to buy more soon.

    #54229

    LeslieD
    Moderator

    Finally I saw one of my girls laying eggs up the top of my garden … AND I have a red admiral been hanging round my nettle patch for the last week or so.

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 45 total)

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