Caterpillar Care (Monarchs)

This topic contains 7 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  shakungrover 4 months, 3 weeks ago.

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    A monarch caterpillar will grow to 3,000 times its original size so it is going to eat a lot of milkweed (e.g. swan plant). Nobody wants their caterpillars to die so here are some key points to remember:

    Some people say three medium-sized plants per caterpillar are needed for the caterpillars to successfully pupate and for the plant to thrive.

    When buying plants buy twice as many as you think you will need and keep some protected for next year’s monarchs. At the same time plant plenty of seed(s) so that you have more plants growing. Do you live in a part of New Zealand where you have to get new plants each year, or do your plants need to be replaced each year? Then as soon as you can after winter get seeds sprouting and buy your swan plants. Plant them in a warm, sunny place. The monarchs won’t be far behind.

    If you are giving caterpillars away be careful about the container that you put them in. In plastic they will sweat and be stressed and that is where problems with disease will arise. If you can find a cardboard box this will be better. Also put in a framework of twigs (like a jungle gym) so that the caterpillars don’t all sit on the bottom of the box but climb around.

    There is some additional information HERE.

    If you want your butterflies to stay around your garden then we suggest you do the Create Butterfly Habitat Course to learn more about what they need.

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    ALways ask if Mitre 10 or any garden center or supplier has sprayed the swan plants with fungicide, or pesticide, etc – as this will be toxic to Butterflies. Dont ask me how I know this 🙁 Fiona



    I own 6 swan plants have had 5 butterflies since getting them, as I write this I have 1 on my hand right now. I have moved at least 4 of my plants into our greenhouse to recover. I’m going to get more next time my local mitre 10 mega is selling them. They are beautiful and will be making a big monarch garden when I get my own place.


    yes thank you! I wish I’d know that before as we have run out of swan plants now. Is there anyone in Hamilton who has extra?



    Hi Lucy, So great of you having a swan plant and some caterpillars. You need several swan plants, one is not enough even for one caterpillar. Please make sure you check for eggs since your plants cannot support any further cats.

    Bunnings in Lyall Bay have them but with our poor summer you would many of them since they are not bushy or very tall. I live in Seatoun too. Caryl
    PS My private email is
    PPS Happy to answer your questions. Are you at Seatoun School?


    Lucy FL

    Hi Jacqui

    My name is Lucy. I am 7 years old And live in Seatoun in Wellington. My one swan plant has more than 15 2cm caterpillars. My one plant hasn’t many leaves left. What should I do to feed my caterpillars?

    Please can you give me some advice?

    Thank you,



    Thank you Jacqui for these useful tips – and some “Trade Secrets” too – for sucessfully caring for Monarch Caterpillars. The ratio of plants to caterpillars is one truly handy tip – amongst what is really A Survival Guide for Carers of Monarchs!! Thank you again – Best wishes Fiona

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