Sprayed plants warning (christchurch)

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  • #32130

    Romy Forrer

    Hi all

    As i have far to many caterpillars for my measly swan plants this year i decided to stock up on extra plants.  Saw some nice ones at Pak’n’save Hornby (chch).  I bought them and left them isolated inside for 2 weeks until my situation got desperate…2 hours after starting on the plants i had about 6 sick caterpillars.

    These plants were definitely sprayed (and quite heavily i suspect) – they have a yellow label with a  butterfly on it – the nursery name is STRIKS.

    All the caterpillars are alive at this point but lethargic, not eating (and one or two I have seen writhing and emitting green liquid).  Does anyone have any suggestions on how to treat them?  They now have access to pumpkin and to unsprayed seedlings.

    Also – does anyone know if the Evandale Gardens plants (bought at the Warehouse in christchurch) are safe?  I’ve emailed the nursery but no reply so far, and my food supply is really dwindling.

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    Does it take longer to see signs of insecticide poisoning?

    A very hard one to answer, Romy. It would depend on the health of the caterpillars and the  composition of the insecticide or insecticides and no doubt other environmental factors.

    BTW I had a phone call from Nicky at Pak’n’save who tells me that no way would the plants have been sprayed in their shop and they’ve had no other complaints – and Striks are a very reputable grower. I have left a message on the phone of Striks but they have not as yet been in touch.


    Romy Forrer

    I decided to give the Warehouse (Evansdale) plants a go.  The three guinea pig caterpillars appear to be very happy, they’ve been munching for 3-4 hours.   Does it take longer to see signs of insecticide poisoning?

    Something must be in the air today because a lot of my fatter babies have left home 🙂

    Some of them have even picked good spots to hunker down (although one was right next to a praying mantis egg-case and another, a spider web in which a giant whitetail was busy devouring the original occupant)


    Romy Forrer

    I’ve had a closer inspection of the Striks plants and there are some possible signs of overspray on one of the plants – I had checked the tops of the leaves but didn’t realise plants are usually sprayed from underneath.

    There are some shiny circles and darker green patches on a few of the leaves.  The plant may’ve been next to other (non-swan-plant) plants that were sprayed and i might just have been the unlucky one to buy this plant. No sign of spray on the other Stiks plant.

    On a more positive note – the sickest of caterpillars (the one i thought I’d lost) has moved onto a branch and made a ‘J’ 🙂  I’d put the green tinge of his skin down to the spray effects, but i think it was actually part of the pupating process!  I hope he’ll form a chrysalis ok.

    Found 2 more ‘J’s as well and 2 that’ve picked possies, so looks like my 5th instars are finally moving on 🙂  That’ll take away some pressure on the plants ( I reckon I’ll only need about 5 more plants to tide the rest through).



    Strik are a good Nursery, I will get the address for you Jacqui

    I am sure if you get in touch with them they will come to the party, he died in the last year or two and his wife is a lovely person




    I dont know about Christchurch stores but here in Dunedin I have purchased many swan plants from Mitre 10 mega and they have been awesome with no problems whatsoever! The caterpillars actually prefer this ones over others purchased.  Within half an hour all of the caterpillars had moved over to these new plants I put in for them (despite still have leaves on the others).  The caterpillars are thriving with nearly 100 success rate (lost one but that was my fault as I led the J pillar get too hot/dry I believe)

    The are from Zealandia nursery (I just looked up their website and they are located in Christcurch!


    Contact info:
    Head Office
    Zealandia Horticulture Ltd
    Head Office
    301 Radcliffe Road
    PO Box 76007
    Christchurch 8548
    T: 03 323 9898
    F: 03 323 9899
    E: enquiries@zealandia.co.nz


    Romy Forrer

    Thanks for all your responses.

    I don’t think I have lost any of the caterpillars. Though possibly one has fallen somewhere I can’t see, as there was one pretty sick one that has now gone from his perch from earlier in the day.  They are back outside with access to a few plants (I know to be spray-free) and pumpkin (mostly 5th instars were affected) and have moved around a bit today.  I will call Pak’n’Save tomorrow to report my problem.

    If anyone has bought plants from The Warehouse in chch very recently and had no problems with them, I’d love to know (I bought 12 in a fit of “starving caterpillar” panic and really want to feed them out but do not want a repeat of the Strik’s incident).  I wish there was a  way to tell at a glance if they’ve been sprayed.

    It’d be so nice and simple if the nursery simply put that information on the label, along with a guideline to how long the insecticide will stay active.

    Right now I’m crossing my fingers that the hanger-oner fat 5th instars (they’ve been huge for what seems like ages) will leave to go off and pupate, giving the plants a chance to feed the smaller ones.



    Jacqui, I’ve just read that article from the June 08 magazine. OMG what a horror story, just goes to show you can’t take anything for granted.




    Worth reading, pages 7 and 8.


    It was a nightmare for Vicky!




    I wish I’d seen this thread earlier, a bit late for me to do anything today.

    What I usually do when I see messages like this is to phone the store and tell them how bad it is – not only for the caterpillars (of course) and for those who bought the plants, but (from the retailer’s point of view) they’re going to have a lot of dissatisfied customers.

    What has happened in the past is that the store manager will deny all knowledge of them having been sprayed, and the grower will also say the same. I guess you have to give them room for doubt as it “could have” been a staff member (either at the grower’s or the store) who had sprayed them. And not everyone thinks like we do – some people only want to see “healthy” plants going on sale, so they don’t care what spray they’re used. To you and me “healthy” means safe – to them “healthy” means no holes, or leaves – in perfect condition.

    I am not agreeing with that sentiment, I’m just saying that that is how they think. But it’s WRONG.


    Later… I have phoned Pak’n’Save Hornby and as I thought, the manager in the charge of that department is not there (7pm Saturday) but the young woman I spoke to was most helpful and is firstly taking immediate action (she says) pulling any plants unsold off the shelves – no more will be sold. A lot went out last week.

    Now… Vicky Steele, former trustee, had just this problem a few years ago and I will look up that thread. I have a funny feeling Striks was mentioned at that time, I’ve certainly heard the name before. Are there any more clues on the tag as to where they are?





    Horrible…. I think it would be good to write to the supermarket manager and let them know what’s happened….they should be aware of this situation and it’s up to them surely to make sure their products being sold as monarch food are not actually toxic!

    Also a letter to the Nurseryman’s Association? Hopefully their members should be ensuring the plants they grow for the purposes of raising caterpillars are fit for the job!

    The nursery here I buy from advertises their swan plants as “Spray Free” ….. so I guess that unless that is stated at the point of sale, they are best avoided.

    Unless your caterpillars have bounced back, I would be inclined to pop them in the freezer and put them out of their misery 🙁




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