alternative butterfly food?

This topic contains 15 replies, has 0 voices, and was last updated by  Swansong 10 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #13656

    stean
    Participant

    i am trying to keep my butterflies alive but they dont have any chance out there at the moment, honey doesn’t seem to be very popular, what else will they eat? and do their feet need to be cleaned afterwards

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  • #21098

    Swansong
    Participant

    At least. And growing. I still have a number of chrysalides to hatch. Since Ive never been in this predicament before, Im having to rethink my strategy of feeding. I simply havent got the time to individually attend to each one. So I hang a fresh peice of sodden handytowel in the center of my net enclosure, with drops of honey on it. The trouble is it dries out soOOOo fast I have to remoisten it about 4 times a day. I notice they all look like their abdomens are reasonable full. Im down to about 4 caterpillars last time I looked. I rescued 3 tots form the park a wee while ago. Theyre still hanging in there but things are VERY slow.

    #21097

    stean
    Participant

    You have 35

    That is amazing ,it must take you ages to feed them all ,i only have 5 left as i have lost 3 butterflies and one caterpillar in the last 2 weeks.

    #21072

    Swansong
    Participant

    Thats great stean. :).

    How many butterflies do you have? Ive got about 35 and Ive never had more than 10 at this time of the year. Im waiting to release them but I dont like the weather at the moment. I was saddened when my hubby found a dead monarch on the lawn the other day. We have virtually no nectar sources at our place or in the near vincinity at the moment. As it was intact I think it must have starved OR more likely its been so cold that maybe the frosts were too much. I dont really know.

    Cheers
    Swansong

    #21068

    stean
    Participant

    Thanks Gill and Swansong

    I have been trying to feed them as u have said and it seems to be working.

    I have two bottlebrush plants that i bought last week but they havent flowered yet

    #21055

    Swansong
    Participant

    Hi Stean. OK try this.

    Sometimes and especially at this time of the year down here, I would suggest you use a tooth pick or similar, and gently prise out its proboscis. Sometimes they are a bit reluctant to let you do this, but once you get the hang of it its pretty easy. Usually you will see a little bit of it bulging if you look side-on. Dont do this when its too cold like 1st thing in the morning. Conversely the trick is to get them before they rev up too much with the warmth as well.

    1st though you will need some honey and water mix on some clean unscented tissue paper. Sodden but not “swimming”. I put it on a plastic lid and put the butterfly on this. Then do the proboscis thing. Now, sometimes they just curl it right back up, and you need to have 2 or 3 goes at it. If that is unsuccessful its usually because theyre not hungry. However you can tell if their abdomens are not at least straight and more preferably slightly rounded that theyre on the hungry side.

    At the end of the day its a case of you can lead a horse to water but you cant make it drink. Perseverance is the key.

    Let me know how you go.

    Swansong

    #21054

    Gilly
    Participant

    Stean, any hebe flowers? Dandelions even? I’ve had them feeding in the winter on camellia flowers. Bottlebrush.

    #21053

    stean
    Participant

    Hi Robapon

    I see that now.

    Im still having trouble getting my butterflies to feed,any suggestions from anyone would be great

    #20887

    Anonymous

    Hi Stean,

    I see no-one has answered about the feet.

    They do well at keeping these clean themselves, so you shouldn’t get nectary footprints everywhere.

    Saying this, you have probably come to realise that by now yourself.

    Robert.

    #20711

    stean
    Participant

    Hi swansong,any information you could give me on how to feed them would be great as i struggle to get them feeding from time to time.i have lost two butterflies already and for some reason a caterpillar just died while it was hanging

    #20646

    Swansong
    Participant

    Hi stean, Im Manawatu area as well. Good to see another Manawatu-ite on board. :). Let us know how you go with your nectar coz theres a few little other tricks that are handy to know, like about how you give it to them in general.

    Best
    Swansong

    #20644

    stean
    Participant

    hi, i am in bulls/manawatu area, will try the artificial nectar recipe, hopefully with more luck, thanks heaps

    #20642

    Swansong
    Participant

    “honey doesn’t seem to be very popular”

    I’m not sure why you think this as I have had great succes with honey as have other notable members here. What I would recommend though is to get the more natural honey, like the brown stuff, or syrup like stuff.

    #20638

    Clair
    Participant

    Look for the post “artificial nectar” that J posted 4 months ago – Nigel Ventnar’s recipe. I’ve changed to this because the base syrup really and truly does not go off, and my butterflies seem to just love it.

    #20635

    Jacqui
    Moderator
    #20634

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Whereabouts are you? Around here there are flowers such as Buddleia, bottlebrush, poinsettia in full bloom – if these are older plants (older varieties are richer in nectar) then they are ideal to pick and bring indoors.

    There are lots of ideas in this thread here:

    Appropriate time to release butterflies

    Somewhere on here there’s a link to feeding butterflies with sugar syrup, I’ll see if I can find it for you. And meantime, I’m sure some of the others will share their ideas.

    Jacqui

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