Equal parts heartrending and entertaining

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  • #38381


    My experience with the Swan plants this year has been equal parts heartrending and entertaining.

    What has been especially entertaining has been watching the monarchs hanging around having their domestic dramas as they lay claim to the swan plants. And watching them being chased around by the red admirals.

    And the heartrending: Wasps have killed all of the caterpillars until the last 2-3 weeks. Despite the defences I could muster: draping a large plant in a wasp proof cover (cover destroyed by the north-westerlies); home-made wasp traps (caught two cockroaches, zero wasps) and using a butterfly net to capture the wasps and squash them (rewarding but ultimately futile given the relentless hordes of wasps). And then on top of the wasps, there have been the aphids- not only were the caterpillars being savaged, but so was the plants. (Also, saw a praying mantis in the act of eating a caterpillar.)

    Only now, have a dozen or so caterpillars began chrysalising.

    Thanks so much for all of your work Jacqui, and thanks too to everybody who spurs the trust along.

    (From Haumoana)

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  • #38400


    Hi Trent
    Although I live in England,so have no real experience of much wasp problem,maybe what I do to rear cats may be of some use.Using old net curtains.many of which I buy in second hand and charity shops, and borrowing my wife’s sewing machine I make net sleeves of various sizes which I put over the various foodplants.These are then tied at the bottom around the stem,the cats are put in and the top of the sleeve is tied with more string.This not only gives me control over the progress of the cats but prevents parasitic flies from getting at the various species I rear.The nets can be used many times and should keep your wasps at bay.



    Thanks Trent – if it wasn’t for the butterfly house here we’d have the same problem. Hopefully the wasps will change their diet to nectar SOON… but I haven’t seen any evidence of it yet – and with the day length shortening and the cooler temperatures, it may be too late for Monarchs this year. We will have to wait and see what Nature brings us.

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