Tauranga monarchs

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  • #58612

    cindy botha
    Participant

    Can someone tell me what has happened to the monarchs in Tauranga this year? I have been propagating monarchs in my garden for several years, and last year I had 30-40 butterflies hatching per week through summer. This year – no caterpillars, the very occasional butterfly – it’s heartbreaking. And not just me – everywhere i walk in the area there are huge uneaten swanplant bushes, which would never have been the case at this time of year. And no butterflies to be seen.

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  • #58720

    Dell
    Participant

    Do you still have swan plants requiring hungry caterpillars? I have too many for the number of plants I have. I am east of Te Puke

    #58619

    cindy botha
    Participant

    Thank you Jacqui – There are no ants – I do have yellow aphid infestations, but get them intermittently every year. Same with wasps, which last year took even fully grown caterpillars, but there are definitely fewer praying mantises this year too. and it’s the same all over Tauranga – everyone i know says there are just no butterflies this year, whereas I’m used to big numbers. This time last year I’d had nearly 200 chrysalises hatch – this year I’ve had not one caterpillar. It’s awful. But I hope as you say that a generation will happen before winter. Thanks for the feedback.

    #58617

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Hi Cindy

    If you take a close look at your swan plants:

    1. Are there ants running up and down the stems? Ants will be taking the eggs and possibly first instar caterpillars. You could install an ant bait at the foot of the plant or wherever you see ant trails.

    2. Are there small areas on the leaves where the eggs have been, hatched and then the first instar caterpillars have been taken? This is quite likely to be wasps. Throw an old net curtain over a plant, make a note of the date and then see if it’s any different two weeks later. The monarchs can lay eggs on the curtain fabric and the first instar caterpillars can crawl through to where it is harder for the wasps to get them. Doesn’t need to be completely wastproof.

    3. If your plant(s) are close to a wall, on a cooler day hose them starting at the bottom with a spray nozzle, working your way up the plant. If it’s praying mantises, then they will soon be running up the walls.

    Where there are less monarchs, it will mean that there are less eggs being laid, which leads to less monarchs of course. So you need to break that cycle! However, bear in mind that the social wasps will soon stop feeding protein (eggs/caterpillars) to the juvenile wasps as they will be old enough to feed themselves – and then wasps start feeding on nectar. At that point we (hopefully) will see another generation of monarchs before the winter.

    Hope that is helpful!

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