One day old Monarch in awful Auckland weather

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  • #44376

    suzanneagnes
    Participant

    I have a new Monarch, a female I believe, that I found with seven others as caterpillars on a swan plant. I have kept and feed them mostly indoors, only one caterpillar is left now and the rest are chrysalis. My first Monarch butterfly arrived last night. I can’t put it out into this weather, can anyone tell me what I should do as the other butterflies will emerge soon. Help!

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  • #44472

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Hi Faithgale – I suggest you leave them where they are, and release the butterflies a few hours after they’ve come out, or in the mornings when it’s “warmed up” a bit. If you put them in a cool dark place it will slow down the process (which I know what is what you intend) but there is more risk for them. Better to let them take their chances as adults and fly away.

    When you release them outdoors, just put them somewhere where there is freedom (i.e. not fully enclosed), maximum sun when there is sun (i.e. north-facing) and shelter (i.e. out of the wind). I’m sure you’ll find somewhere suitable – even if it is at a nearby park.

    That’s my opinion, but others may have other ideas and suggestions. Hope that helps.

    #44471

    faithgale
    Participant

    Jacqui, if I put chrysalises in a cool dark place, will they last until the weather’s warmer and then butterflies emerge, or will they simply die off? How long can they last like this?
    I have around 20 in the warm kitchen and of course butterflies keep emerging, then I wait for the next sunny spell and put them out. Is it better to do this, or will it soon be too cold? I’m in Auckland, so it seldom goes below 0 degrees…

    #44428

    suzanneagnes
    Participant

    I’ve now released three Monarch butterflies in the last few days. Two successfully, but my third originally had trouble escaping from his chrysalis and may have damaged his wing. He got 10 yards to-day and crashed. Now exercising on a swan plant in the sun but I intend to bring him in when the sun goes down. Great news though, I was searching for food in the garden and found my bottlebrush tree had at least six Monarch guests feeding there. Also wasps, but the butterflies didn’t seem concerned!
    Also found a new caterpillar on a swan plant. Seems they are a lot hardier than I had thought.

    #44402

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    My answer earlier was a bit garbled (so I’ve fixed it) – but now that I’m back on a computer (and not dictating to my iPhone in between meetings!) I’ll provide a little more information…

    In the winter it’s natural for a monarch to overwinter – they don’t breed even though they’re sexually mature – they conserve their energy by staying together in large groups in trees, and will only come out and top up their nectar reserves on warm, sunny days – they get energy from the sun to fly. So on cool, dark days they do nothing.

    They’re also cold blooded and what a lot of us people do is humanise them, thinking that if it’s horrible for us it must be horrible for “them” too… not only monarchs but cows and sheep and anything that lives outdoors. So when you keep a monarch butterfly in a warm, sunny window everything says to the monarch that it’s midsummer. They will want to feed and probably mate. And that’s giving them the wrong message.

    Cool and dark and they won’t need or want to feed. Outdoors is better than indoors. Not everyone will survive, but if a monarch lays 300 or 400 or a thousand eggs… we only need one or two of them to get to become adults to continue the species. Some are destined to become food for other living things, even the soil!

    Hope that makes sense.

    #44399

    suzanneagnes
    Participant

    Thank-you Jacqui. I will.

    #44397

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    I suggest you put her outside somewhere where she will get the same sunshine and out of the wind and wet. They know when to feed. They have been looking after themselves for millions of years. I urge you to put it outdoors so she can do what comes naturally.

    #44393

    suzanneagnes
    Participant

    Thank-you.
    I had her in a box but then I thought she wasn’t eating and perhaps dying. This morning I put all of them in an area of the house where it is warmer and the sun occasionally comes through the window. The lone Monarch has flown to the window and just sits there. How often do they eat?

    #44378

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    When the butterfly starts to get active you need to convey the message to the butterfly that it’s not pleasant outdoors. Cold and dark the butterfly could cope with – but not wind and heavy rain.

    So rather than keeping it warm and bright (which is what a butterfly would equate with midsummer) put it somewhere cool and dark and it will wait for the weather to improve. So then, within the next few days when the weather starts to improve, put it outdoors again – even if it’s cool and dark – but somewhere where it will be out of the wet, and where any smidgeon of sunlight will hit its wings and the wind can’t get to it. It will fly adjust naturally to the weather and fly away when it’s warm enough to somewhere more sheltered.

    I would put it in a carton or cardboard box in the bottom of a dark wardrobe, in the coolest room – or something similar.

    Hope that helps.

    Jacqui

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