Malformed Monarchs Hatching

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  • #42115


    We have raised and released between 80 and 90 Monarchs this year, we took precautions to exclude wasps etc. but just recently we have had a few hatched with deformed wings. This resulted in the butterflies not surviving.
    I remember having a discussion with you at Kings Plant Barn at Botany where we bought the swan plants where you said that they sprayed them and that that could cause problems. It seems strange that after virtually no failures we should lose 8 to 10 in a short space of time (the last week or so). Do you have any ideas?

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  • #42124


    Thank you both for your help, I have read up on OE and we can take some of the precautions that were suggested and see if that improves things.



    Hello Dave – just to clarify – sometimes plants get sprayed by garden centres, while at times it’s the growers that have sprayed them. Kings Plant Barns in Auckland are really good about keeping their swan plants spray-free, and we as a trust have been working hard with other growers to ensure that plants on sale are not sprayed – or if they are, that there are warnings to accompany the plants.

    Iwould rule out spray… unless you have a neighbour who has sprayed (spray drift), or if anyone has used something in the garden. For instance, we don’t realise it but pets wandering around with flea collars on can cause casualties among the caterpillars – and the “puff” type of insect controls that people have in their homes will too.

    Now Oe is just one pathogen that could cause butterflies to have deformed wings. And it’s not necessarily anything that you’ve done (or haven’t done) that can cause it. There are diseases and pathogens all around us, all the time. Obviously you’re more susceptible to human diseases if you’re mixing with other humans, and it’s the same with butterflies. If you have a lot of butterflies or caterpillars close together, if any one of them is diseased it’s more likely that the disease can be transmitted to others of the same species.

    Look at the hot tags for “disease” and also consider doing our Create Butterfly Habitat course. The more we learn, the better equipped we are.

    Hope that helps.


    Sandra CA

    I’m not an expert, but I’ve read many times that OE causes this type of symptom in butterflies. We had one whose back legs weren’t strong and it couldn’t fully open it’s wings either. I chalked it up to OE. We have quite a bit of that here. I’d disinfect their enclosure thoroughly with a 20% bleach solution.

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