Too many caterpillars/not enough swan plant

This topic contains 74 replies, has 48 voices, and was last updated by  Jacqui 1 year, 8 months ago.

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  • #15081


    Hello all – getting lots of phone calls at this time of the year from people who have either (a) too many Monarch caterpillars, so much so that they’ve run out of plant, or (b) they’re telling me that they’re aren’t any Monarchs in the vicinity and that they would LOVE to see some eating their swan plants…

    This often happens in various communities – in one area there are many wasps kililng all the caterpillars, and somewhere else there are no predators/parasites so the Monarchs are thriving. It’s nature’s way of "controlling" the various species… when the food runs out only a few of the strongest will survive.

    The problem is that we humans "like" some species (Monarchs for instance) and "don’t like" others – perhaps you dislike ants, or wasps or whatever. Nature, however, doesn’t see it like that, Nature runs the world in a "boom or bust" way, there are always peaks and troughs as one species (plant or animal) goes from thriving or struggling.

    But that doesn’t help YOU with YOUR problem… What I suggest is that you add to this thread here, telling us what your situation is AND leaving some contact details so that anyone who has the opposite problem and lives reasonably close to you can get in touch.

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 74 total)
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  • #51916


    We have been running a series of Tips on our Facebook page

    MBNZT on FB

    I summarised them all here:

    Tips for Busy Monarch Lovers

    To be honest I think it’s going to be hard work finding much swan plant/milkweed in garden centres for the remainder of this season and I urge you all to conserve as much food as what you have – and also to increase your supplies where you can.

    I’m about to post another tip in Facebook and this one will say NOT to pull out any little swan plants growing in lawns or places where you don’t want them. They may well satisfy a caterpillar for half a day and you’ll be grateful of them all.

    We have some nice plants for sale (Blockhouse Bay, Auckland). If you’re not in Auckland, you could perhaps band together with some other locals in the same predicament and phone someone like The Plant Place, Hamilton, to see if they might ship you some established plants down.

    Good luck everyone!



    mitre10 in Churchill drive have them. not sure how big but you could ring them and ask. You could also try the garden centre in Miramar, they had big ones there one year when I was in desperate need πŸ™‚



    Hi – I am in Wellington and looking for more swan plants to feed the caterpillars which have emerged while I was away on holiday. I’ve usually purchased plants from Twiglands in previous seasons but they no longer have any. Does anyone know where I can buy decent sized swan plants in Wellington? Thanks. Contact: 027 249 4242



    This is the first time I have had swan plants and have lots of chrysalis’ but even more caterpillars and am almost out of plants cor them. I have rung the garden shops around here (Hutt Valley) but none have more plants. Does anyone know where I can get more or can take some caterpillars?



    I’m in cromwell and have grown a whole heap of large swan plants but have no caterpillars this year and it’s the same for pretty much the whole region. Does anyone know of any way they could send caterpillars or eggs?



    We are in Pyes Pa, Tauranga and have too many caterpillars! Please help!! Have given them another two small swanplants but they won’t last long!



    You could post on our FB page (Visitor Post) and we will share messages – some have been finding that successful. Or, hope that someone sees your “cry for help” here and will be able to help.




    hello. Too many caterpillars. Called Mary at Te Puna quarry park but people have been dropping them off in their hundreds without checking in first, so no luck there. In Western Bay Area – any ideas anybody? Will drop the wee β€˜pillas off or pick up plants. Will be in Mt Wellington area on Wednesday too!
    MAny thanks.



    Thank you, thank you Jacqui! Indeed I did connect and today picked up several large rooted plants from Adrianna in Russell! And going to KawaKawa tomorrow for more! My ‘bug farm’, as my husband calls it, is booming and they are very happy with their fresh food! Cheers, Peg



    Hey Peg… suggest posting on FB – I posted a message for you on The Paihia Noticeboard and seconds later had a response. Hope it works!




    I’m in Paihia, BOI and it’s a bumper crop of monarchs and not so much Swan! Having a really hard time keeping up. Does anyone have cuttings or plants I can dig up/ pay for or do you know where there is some!? My high for harvest and release has been 178 in 4 months. I have over 200 hundred after one month! Help!!!!!



    Anyone got spare plants or want some caterpillars in the Hutt Valley? I took a plant inside to have a spare, but it already had some eggs on it, and the five cats have demolished that plant and are getting close to demolishing the one left outside too. Some can’t be far away from becoming chrysalises thankfully. Also, anyone able to say how long it takes for a demolished plant to recover? It is our first year with swan plants so a good learning experience.



    CleggieNZ – suggest you contact Cath Ash – sounds like she has some great plants coming your way.



    Chaps. I’m in Pukerua Bay and I’ve currently got over 30 caterpillars and rapidly running out of things for them to eat… If you can host some of these give me a call …021 986 566



    Hi I live in Rotorua, I have lots of caterpillars and running out of food if anyone would like some please ring me 0223634414


    Cath Ash

    Hi there, has anyone got hungry caterpillars in the Wellington Region? We are heading down on Saturday to sell gorgeous, healthy, certified organic, 2nd season swan plants at the Paraparaumu Beach market on Saturday, and then the Harbourside Market on the Sunday. $12 per plant, 2 for $20, 5 for $45 or 10 for $80…Hope to see you there. Any questions feel free to text/call me on 021 524585. πŸ™‚



    Happy New Year everyone
    I’m in Auckland – Bucklands Beach and have lots of swan plants if anyone out east has hungry cats. My plants are covered (old net curtains)to keep wasps out so my cats are thriving but ants continue to beat me to most of the eggs, hence spare capacity πŸ™‚
    ph 0274572640



    Hi I’m in Coatesville Albany and have hundreds of caterpillars who have stripped my many Swan plants. If you want any I can drop them off Mobile 021830042.



    I have a hundred or more small swan plants stripped clean and now have lots of very hungry caterpillars with no food.
    I live in Tamahere, near Hillcrest in Hamilton.
    Is anyone able to take a fair few caterpillars please?
    Please phone 07 856 6920.
    My email is



    Have you tried The Plant Place in Alison St, Hamilton?


    I am in East Hamilton we had 8 swan plants and now have 8 sticks. Anyone around in our area who has extra swan plants and would like some caterpillers or would like to get rid of some swan plants?
    text me 0211344565



    Hi Lynley

    If you don’t get any other replies I have some plants here (Blockhouse Bay), big tall “trees” which I’ve been selling for $5 a pot (several plants) if you want them. You could ring me on 027 481 4811 if you like. Also happy to take caterpillars.

    Or you could call on Verran Primary School and ask if you could leave some caterpillars there. They may have big plants.


    I have loads of caterpillars and quickly running out of swan plant if anybody can help. I live in Glenfield – North Shore of Auckland. Contact phone 0272776523



    Hi Scoober – don’t know of any but if you haven’t had any luck by this evening try phoning Mary Parkinson (of Te Puna Quarry Park) she might have some ideas – 07 576 4752. Also try posting on our FB page,



    HI there , Im about to run out of swan plants if anyone has any I can come and get ? Im in Mt Maunganui – 02747682479
    Thanks ‘Melissa

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