Miranda

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  • in reply to: Monarch butterfly predators #56908

    Miranda
    Participant

    My neighbour said she saw a thrush and blackbird peck all the pupae on a giant swanpant but not eat them. I hadn’t seen these behaviours at all in the last 10 years of supporting MBs. However this season I released two newborn MBs only to see a sparrow peck and kill them and not even eat them.

    I wonder if the voracious appetites of the wasps this summer has forced the birds to look for other sources of food: https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/wasp-wipeout/99870169/wasps-are-wiping-out-new-zealands-native-bugs-experts-believe

    in reply to: Very late in season for butterflies #56896

    Miranda
    Participant

    I’m in Papakura and have been moving my chrysalises into a little outdoor greenhouse (the type you get from The Warehouse) in a sheltered spot. A few winters ago I put all my chrysalises into an outdoor storage cupboard as the weather started to get cold. Sometimes I would open it up on sunny days but for the most part it stayed closed to protect them against wind and rain/hail. Towards the end of winter they started turning black and the orange wings started to show through so I started checking them more regularly. Eventually the vast majority did eclose, although they generally seemed weaker to begin with than they do at the peak of summer. A sunny spot and a feed of some home-made “nectar” seemed to perk them up though. I am finding chrysalises in all kinds of exposed spots where they are likely to get damaged in a storm or if it hails so at least if I have moved them to sheltered spot then they have a better chance than they would in the garden.


    Miranda
    Participant

    Butterflies tend to take longer to emerge from their chrysalises as it gets colder (some look ready to hatch for days before there is any movement), and they seem to be more likely to get stuck or fall. Last year I kept my chrysalises in a spare room with the door closed so they didn’t get too warm when the fire was going, and found that those that did emerge in the cold were more likely to fall before their wings had dried or they simply didn’t make it out of the chrysalis at all. When I was around so I could help them if they struggled, I would move them into the lounge where the fireplace is. Within an hour of moving them I would have half a dozen butterflies emerging, with very few falling or getting stuck. They would be quickly moved back to the cooler room if the weather wasn’t suitable for releasing though, so they didn’t get any ideas about it still being summer.

    I think I recall seeing someone posting that they had a similar effect using a heat light in the bathroom.

    in reply to: Where are the monarchs? #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.

    in reply to: Fewer butterflies this season #52797

    Miranda
    Participant

    I’m in Auckland (Papakura). I did complete the survey but it asked me to login to Facebook after hitting submit so I’m not sure if my answers were saved.

    in reply to: Fewer butterflies this season #52783

    Miranda
    Participant

    I’m not sure it’s just low numbers of eggs being laid. Several weeks ago I noticed how few caterpillars and eggs there were (in Auckland) so I collected the few I found and brought them inside. The hatch rate was less than 50% while in previous years it was pretty close to 100%. Has anyone else noticed this?

    in reply to: Midwinter nectar #44850

    Miranda
    Participant

    I’m in Auckland (Papakura). The bright pink flowers are beautiful and the tui are so much fun to watch. If I had space I’d put a few more of these trees in. Good luck with your planting – a large stand of flowering cherries together will look amazing!

    in reply to: Midwinter nectar #44844

    Miranda
    Participant

    I have two flowering cherry trees in bloom at the moment. They are fantastic for the birds but the butterflies have been all over them recently as well. One was already here when I bought the house, so I’m not sure what it is. The other is either Prunus Felix Jury or Prunus Superba.

    I also have what I think is a hebe with purple flowers in flower at the moment – the bees love it.

    in reply to: Midwinter nectar #44343

    Miranda
    Participant

    I have two callistemons in flower at the moment – one is a small Callistemon Red Cluster which was planted two months ago, and the other is a large tree (not sure which type because it was here when we moved in). I have seen several monarchs on the flowers in recent weeks. This is in Papakura, Auckland.

    in reply to: Blue Moon butterfly sighted #43857

    Miranda
    Participant

    Goodness. This gets more offensive by the minute.

    As a scientist (biochemist in case you’re wondering), I can understand the need for study to advance knowledge and increase the chance of saving a species in trouble. Yes, sometimes this requires specimens.

    However, I was under the impression that the Trust is here to educate people about the monarch, among other species, with a significant focus on increasing the various populations. I certainly didn’t consider it would be an appropriate place to request “rare” or exotic butterflies for the purposes of pinning them to a board. Certainly, if that is what someone wants to do, that is within their rights. But perhaps that is more appropriate for sharing with a community that is focused on this as a project, rather than one where people on a weekly basis are dedicated to saving butterflies.

    As an “emotional female” I remember how excited I was to spot a Lesser Wanderer in my garden, and then to get the chance to raise and release one. If some people start catching and killing these less common butterflies on sight, the chance that I’ll see one again will diminish. I imagine I’m not the only one who feels that rush of excitement, “emotional female” or otherwise.

    Finally, if everyone went out and pinned every butterfly they could catch to a board, where would our butterflies be? In a very sorry state. I for one would not be wanting to encourage anyone to do so.

    in reply to: Lesser Wanderer sighted #42337

    Miranda
    Participant

    I guess I must have had more than one lesser wanderer stop by, because the one I caught was male, and I obviously had some eggs in my garden. I just found this little guy in amongst the monarch caterpillars in my tent:
    https://www.monarch.org.nz/2015/02/18/lesser-wanderer-caterpillar/.

    in reply to: Lesser Wanderer sighted #42174

    Miranda
    Participant

    One of the monarchs hanging around my swan plants caught what I think is a lesser wanderer – I thought it was two monarchs mating when they first fell out of the sky but this one doesn’t look like any monarch I’ve seen. I rescued it and I’ve got it in my tent at the moment. I managed to get a photo this time, but I will probably release it shortly.

    Lesser wanderer?

    in reply to: Lesser Wanderer sighted #41902

    Miranda
    Participant

    I think I may have seen one of these in Auckland yesterday. It flew off my swan plant as I walked past. I followed it for a while but it refused to land so I can’t be 100% sure. It caught my attention because it looked like a miniature, slightly faded, monarch as it was flying around. I wish I had managed to get a photo so I could be sure.

    in reply to: Does anyone need eggs? (Auckland) #41292

    Miranda
    Participant

    Hi Sharon, I’ve had a couple of female butterflies laying eggs for most of the day so there are plenty there (and there were plenty of some small caterpillars last night too). I should be home this evening and tomorrow. My number is 2991168.

    in reply to: Sprayed plants – Mavrik #40909

    Miranda
    Participant

    Update: I went back today and asked when exactly the plants were sprayed (so I could be sure when 10 days had passed) and the lady from the gardening department told me that they definitely had not been sprayed and she wasn’t sure why I had been told otherwise. So, I’ve bought a bunch of plants. I will watch my caterpillars carefully just to be safe. The people in the gardening department were aware of the risk to butterflies and caterpillars if swan plants are sprayed so that’s good.

    in reply to: Sprayed plants – Mavrik #40859

    Miranda
    Participant

    Thanks carol and milkweed. Having had a bit more time to read up about mavrik, I see that the spray actually targets caterpillars. So I’m glad I didn’t buy the plants! Milkweed, you’re probably right that they would be okay in about 7 days since for most plants the instructions say to re-spray in 7-10 days but I don’t think I’m going to risk it!

    I have plenty of plants already, but thought I could save myself some time by buying a few plants for the caterpillars I’m raising in a tent.

    I just hope nobody else bought some plants for their caterpillars only to watch them die.

    (Thanks Jacqui for editing the title for me! I shouldn’t post when I’m in a hurry).

    in reply to: caterpillers needed #40787

    Miranda
    Participant

    I’m happy to send you some eggs next week, if you still need/want them by then. I’m not at work this week, but if you don’t get any offers by the end of the week I will collect some eggs on Sunday and get them in the mail on Monday for you.

    in reply to: Caterpillars anyone?? #40685

    Miranda
    Participant

    Yay I’m glad they made it safely. No, don’t worry about the postage costs – I’m just glad to have found a home for them! Between the wasps, and not having enough food if all these eggs hatched, I’m sure most wouldn’t have had a chance otherwise.

    Let me know if you want some more later on (although I’m sure by then you’ll have plenty on your plants).

    in reply to: Caterpillars anyone?? #40644

    Miranda
    Participant

    I put 30-40 eggs in the mail this morning so hopefully they reach you tomorrow or Wednesday, Carol. I think most of them were laid over the weekend, but if any hatch on the way they have plenty of leaves to start with.

    in reply to: Caterpillars anyone?? #40595

    Miranda
    Participant

    I will try to collect them on Sunday and get them in the mail on Monday.

    in reply to: Caterpillars anyone?? #40568

    Miranda
    Participant

    I live in Auckland.

    in reply to: Caterpillars anyone?? #40566

    Miranda
    Participant

    If anyone would like me to send them some eggs next week I’m happy to do so. I’m sure I will have more than my plants can handle (and if I leave them outside they’ll probably be eaten anyway).

    I’ve got my caterpillars inside at the moment – 20 chrysalises already!

    in reply to: monarch depositing eggs #40283

    Miranda
    Participant

    I’m in Auckland and I have a bunch of eggs now. As of last night about half a dozen had hatched. I’ve got them inside at this point because I want as many as possible to survive. I noticed on Sunday (when we had a beautiful day up here) that there are a lot of wasps around too.

    in reply to: Run Away Caterpillars Help?????! #36831

    Miranda
    Participant

    I’ve found chrysalises all over the place – much further from the plants than I expected. However it’s also possible (likely) that wasps are taking/eating the caterpillars at the moment. Or if you have a large praying mantis around, he/she might also eat the caterpillars.

    Some people use an old net curtain over their plants to stop the wasps. It helps, but I’ve also had wasps kill and try to eat caterpillars through the netting. It’s really sad. 🙁

    One option would be to bring the caterpillars inside when they get bigger. You can keep them in a container and clean it out and replace the leaves each day. Or others cut a bit off a plant and keep it in a vase on their tables. Just be aware that the caterpillars can drown so make sure they can’t actually get down into the vase. Oh and make sure you don’t have one of those automatic fly spray gadgets in the house. Good luck! 🙂

    in reply to: Max length of chrysalis stage #30429

    Miranda
    Participant

    I was going to ask a similar question earlier this week. I’ve got about 30 chrysalises, most of which are from before Easter weekend. I had all but given up on them and then this week 4 have emerged and another 8 now have the orange of the wings showing through.

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