Shaun

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  • in reply to: Survey – just the basics please! #22374

    Shaun
    Participant

    Number/species of milkweed plants: 2 x 2m+ over three year old Swan Plants. Several small unmolested self-seeded plants have popped up here and there. A couple of Asclepias that haven’t attracted Monarchs either.

    Community/suburb: Pukekohe

    Have you had typical summer weather or describe: I don’t really know. I think that it started out as a warm spring (early Sept) and since then has been a lot colder than normal. I could be wrong though…

    Adult Monarchs (e.g. butterflies) seen around milkweed: One in early spring, none for a couple months, a few more appearing now.

    Larvae/pupae observed: A half-dozen early spring but none made it to adulthood. At the end of last summer there were a lot of paper wasps here, chewing my hardwood stakes for nest material…. There are a few small larvae on the plants now and quite a few eggs. I haven’t seen a paper wasp for a couple months so maybe someone took care of the nest?

    Eggs observed: As above. Quite a few now.

    Praying mantises: Only the native variety (I kill the SA pests on sight) but they’re in a different part of the garden.

    Aphids: A few, not as many as previous years.

    Ladybirds: None.

    Bees: Not a lot but enough to pollinate my passionfruit.

    Wasps: As above. Lots of paper wasps last year, not observed any in the last couple months.

    Ants: Yep, lots on the Swan plants, as well as everywhere else in my garden. I think I live on a giant ant-hill. However they’ve been on the plants in previous years when there have been lots of butterflies and larvae around.

    Other pests seen affecting Monarchs/milkweed: None.

    Any other comments: This has been the worst season for Monarchs that I’ve noticed since I started planting Swan Plants. I’ve cut back radically on the amount of milkweeds that I grow as I’m vegetable gardening and I can only do so much. Surely the scarcity of Monarchs around Pukekohe isn’t due to me not growing hundreds of plants each year?

    Season’s greetings to all.

    in reply to: Oe #18261

    Shaun
    Participant

    I’d just like to make a wee comment in this thread.

    The original article is about rearing monarchs in artificial environments. As an ex professional ornamental fish breeder I know all about how disease can get out of hand very quickly in a monoculture situation.

    Animals can and do survive quite well with low-level infections of all sorts of contagious diseases. The only time it becomes really problematic is when they are crowded together. Normally, a parasite drops thousands of spores, (or whatever it’s propagation stage is) and only a few find a suitable new host to perpetuate the parasite. However, in a crowded monoculture most, if not all of the spores find homes. THAT is where the problem lies and that is where drastic measures are called for. Been there, done that.

    What it boils down to is that, as far as I know, none of us are rearing monarchs in an environment similar to the one used by the author of that article. Therefore the methods he uses aren’t applicable to us. Sure, we can learn from them. However, we don’t have to be so draconian about it.

    I hope everyone here is well, it’s been a while since i checked in. 🙂

    Cheers,

    Shaun.

    in reply to: Roving Caterpillars #16778

    Shaun
    Participant

    Wow! Thanks for that Jacqui, I wasn’t sure of the exact mechanism they used. I’m going to be watching the next J I see ‘splitting’ very carefully with my new digital camera (with ‘super macro’ mode!) in hand.

    Shaun.

    in reply to: Shield beetles #16777

    Shaun
    Participant

    Hi Norm,

    Yes, I can categorically state that the green shield bugs can be a major predator on Monarch caterpillar larva. Back when I was a young fella I’d help mum squishing them on the swan plants, often 6 or 8 a day. Many times they were caught in flagrante so there’s no doubt regarding their predatory (or at least omnivorous) nature. In fact I remember catching a single brown one once and wondering if it was a mutation.

    One thing I learned from my time in The New Zealand Native Freshwater Fish Study Group was how little is actually known (or at least documented) about a lot of our fauna. DOC were falling all over themselves to get our membership to fill out observation forms listing species found (and lots of other variables) for every field trip we went on. DOC accumulated more data on ‘range’ and preferred habitat type for most species in a couple of years from us than they’d managed to collect previously.

    Cheers,

    Shaun.

    (Still annoyed that my parents sold my bound, complete collection of “New Zealand’s Nature Heritage” magazines when the had a garage sale before moving to Aus. My fault for leaving it there I guess.)

    in reply to: yellow admirals #16770

    Shaun
    Participant

    Congratulations! What a beautiful butterfly.

    Here’s a pic my the one that’s been fighting for nectar on my buddleias. I’m afraid that she’s (?) a little worse for wear compared to what she looked like a fortnight ago. The Monarchs have been bullying her mercilessly:

    http://test.internet-webmaster.de/upload/1202513530.jpg

    Shaun.

    in reply to: Shield beetles #16766

    Shaun
    Participant

    Hi Jacqui,

    In that link to the pic of a shield bug it says that the green ones don’t feed on caterpillars. This is untrue, I have witnessed them in the act quite a few times. Perhaps their favourite food is plant sap (they used to be very troublesome on my runner beans) and they’re omnivores but I’ve certainly seen them sucking Monarch larvae. (Which, after all, are just liquefied plant in a sack of skin.)
    I just thought I’d mention it as I’d hate to have folks leaving the green ones alone and wondering why their cats are getting eaten.
    Cheers,

    Shaun.

    in reply to: New butterfly “bleeding” #16696

    Shaun
    Participant

    Hi HG,

    When I’ve seen it, it’s been soon after the butterfly has emerged. In fact I’ve watched them and there has been no ‘fighting’ before it happened. As far as I can tell it happens if the wing vein leaks, probably by getting bent (by any means, wind or contact included) at a certain stage of the wing drying out. Past the ‘floppy’ stage but before they’re fully hardened off.

    Cheers,

    Shaun.

    in reply to: Poor Mrs Monarch #16694

    Shaun
    Participant

    Hi Jacqui,

    Yeah, I knew about the dock leaf thing from when I was a kid in England. I used to eat stinging nettle leaves and, as long as I gripped them firmly with only my fingertips I didn’t get stung (much). I’d roll them into a ball and then eat them after an old woman (who would have been the village witch if it’d been 200 years earlier) told me that they were really good for the system and to eat at least a couple a day. I did that for several years, picking young, fresh leaves from the roadside on my way home from primary school.

    I might have a look with tongs tomorrow. However, I think that the Red Admiral might have come from the nettles I have as I noticed a curled leaf a couple times a month or two back but didn’t really see a larvae.

    Thanks,

    Shaun.

    in reply to: New butterfly “bleeding” #16691

    Shaun
    Participant

    Hi Swansong,
    I’ve seen this phenomena quite a few times and have just spent ages flipping through my photos. I found one, showing one droplet like you mention. However, I’ve seen butterflies with several droplets, obviously I just didn’t take a pic.
    Anyway, here it is, hosted with a German friend of mine. 🙂
    <http://test.internet-webmaster.de/upload/1201473607.jpg&gt;
    I assume that’s what you’re talking about?

    in reply to: Poor Mrs Monarch #16689

    Shaun
    Participant

    I’m not sure if it laid eggs or not, I’m not that keen on handling the nettle. <g>
    I’m in Pukekohe.

    in reply to: Poor Mrs Monarch #16683

    Shaun
    Participant

    I’m absolutely amazed by the aggression that (presumably male) Monarchs show. I have lots and lots around here (another 100 or more emerged over the last two days) and, while they’re flying around my head I hear them crashing into each other in mid-air! They make a real clicking noise as they clash.
    Actually, it annoys me. I’ve planted stinging nettles to provide larva food for Admirals and buddelias to attract and feed the adults and yesterday I saw the first Red Admiral that I’ve seen for years! (I saw a single Yellow Admiral last year.) The Red Admiral was feeding, or trying to, from the buddleia. However, whenever he ‘flashed’ his wings or tried to move to another flower he was literally mobbed by Monarchs who would chase him until they were well out of sight! Twice he came back a few minutes later but the third time I saw it happen he didn’t return. A shame as I was hoping to get a good pic. The only ones I managed to take that were in focus were with his wings closed.
    It seems that, with this many Monarchs around, the chances of me having Admirals as well are very slim. 🙁

    in reply to: A few pics from Pukekohe. #16682

    Shaun
    Participant

    Swansong: Sorry I haven’t checked back here in a while, I’ve been busy. The pegs I use for the monarchs are bought from The Plastic Box. <http://www.plasticbox.co.nz/&gt; They’re not the cheapest pegs on the market by quite a bit but the main reason I first bought them is they are NZ made and they seem very strong.

    They are called ‘TUF’ Pegs and the card that 12 of them are clipped to claims; Super Strong, Long Life, NZ Made and Rust Free. I’m sorry I can’t remember how much I paid for them but. as I said, they were probably the most expensive pegs I’ve bought. That said, I’m going to be buying more of them soon. I’m replacing my various types of older pegs with them as they break.

    On the back side of the packing card it says:

    “Manufactured for and distributed by Drago Corp. Ltd. 39f Cape Horn Rd, Hillsborough, Auckland, NZ. Ph: 09 626 5668”

    I hope that’s of some help to you. They’re great pegs, the best I’ve used.

    in reply to: A few pics from Pukekohe. #16615

    Shaun
    Participant

    Hehee! Thanks Angie. Yeah, I have to be careful not to put real washing close to the pupa as it gets blown up and hits them. One thing I’ve learned; I’ve read that the cremaster (the black ‘stem’ on the pupa) is ‘dead material’. I’ve found this not to be the case. Twice (Slow learner?) Once I tried tying cotton around the top of one to hang it and pulled the knot too tight. It broke the top of the cremaster and liquid came out. The other time a similar thing happened with a clothes peg. Now I only use pegs that will grip the thinnest bit of material and only grip the leaf/silk that the cremater is attached to with them. (If there’s nothing there I use superglue and hang them under my railing around mt deck).
    Cheers,
    Shaun.

    in reply to: Ping Gilly? #16610

    Shaun
    Participant

    Thanks. 🙂
    Just checking back now, Jacqui was kind enough to email me with your addy.

    in reply to: First Monarch of the season! #16481

    Shaun
    Participant

    🙂 Thanks for the welcome back Jacqui. I didn’t really go away, just been lurking in the shadows. <g>.

    I’ll certainly be watching for wasps. Another question springs to mind; I’ve had lots of trouble with snails eating my swan plants over winter (and still). I’ve had to weed around them and put out slug and snail bait. I was surprised, I didn’t think anything other than Monarch larvae would eat them. Is it common to have snails eating them? Or are my snails special? 😉

    Good “talking” with you again.

    in reply to: First Monarch of the season! #16476

    Shaun
    Participant

    Forgot to mention in my excitement, I’m in Pukekohe. Has anyone else been visited by butterflies yet this year?

    in reply to: Late season butterflies. #16336

    Shaun
    Participant

    Yes, I haven’t checked for a few days. The last three Monarchs that emerged here didn’t open their wings fully. 🙁
    Yet I still have larvae at all stages and unhatched eggs on my swan plants. The larva’s growth has slowed considerably and I’m beginning to wonder if some might get through winter as larva.
    Strange weather. If any of you haven’t seen the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” that Al Gore made I strongly urge you to see it, it should be available at your local video store and should be compulsory viewing in schools IMO.

    in reply to: Late season butterflies. #16326

    Shaun
    Participant

    Well, here we are, winter is upon us and yesterday a perfect, if a bit small, Monarch emerged from it’s pupa outside my bedroom window. I have Monarchs still doing fine outdoors in all stages of development. Newly-laid eggs, larvae of all sizes, pupa and adults.

    What’s up with our weather?

    in reply to: Pumpkin as Alternative food #16302

    Shaun
    Participant

    Great to hear that he’s still munching, he seemed keen on the swan plant once he ‘woke up’. 🙂

    I’m fairly convinced that they need the latex from the plant to make their silk hanging-pad. I had problems with mine the longer they’d been on pumpkin. Might have something to do with the fact that the latex is around 2% raw rubber? Could be something to do with it.

    Great pics BTW, thanks for sharing.

    in reply to: A question on growing milkweed #16299

    Shaun
    Participant

    Hi Jacqui,

    Thanks for the info. I knew you’d come through. 🙂

    I didn’t bookmark the site where I originally read about the milkweed/kapok thing but Wiki mentions it briefly:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milkweed

    Interstingly, that Wiki entry also mentions asclepias acida as a possible source-plant for the almost mythical ‘Soma’. (Although Wiki’s article on Soma doesn’t mention asclepias). That would back up Terry’s experience of feeling “weak and lethargic and almost hallucinatory” after skin-contact with milkweed sap. One would assume that all asclepias probably have the same alkaloids present, just in differing quantities in each one.

    Cheers,

    Shaun.

    in reply to: Caterpillar CPR #16293

    Shaun
    Participant

    Hi Adrienne,

    I think that you may be right. I finished a lot of caterpillars off earlier in the season with pumpkin and the longer they’d been on the pumpkin the less silk they made. See my reply to you in another thread.

    Shaun.

    in reply to: Pumpkin as Alternative food #16292

    Shaun
    Participant

    Hi Adrienne,

    I’m in Pukekohe and can bring you out a swan plant tomorrow if you like. It’s not huge but it’s potted up ready and should be plenty of food for one cat. call me on 238 1813 after noon tomorrow if you’d like the plant.

    Cheers,

    Shaun.

    in reply to: A question on growing milkweed #16281

    Shaun
    Participant

    I suppose I could research it but why when I have Jacqui to ask? 🙂

    Do you know when Monarchs became established in NZ Jacqui? I ask because I hear that, in the US, during WWII, the Kapok shortage prompted them to use milkweed ‘down’ in the lifejackets that were issued to the military instead of the tropical kapok that comes from trees. Hundreds of tons of the stuff was harvested. I bet that took up a lot of space! (After the war there were synthetic materials available and kapok never really took off again).

    I wonder if that could have been the source of the food plants for the Monarchs?

    Cheers,

    Shaun.

    in reply to: A question on growing milkweed #16278

    Shaun
    Participant

    Jacqui, I find that comment about monarchs co-evolving with a particular species of milkweed rather interesting as, to the best of my knowledge, there are no native milkweeds in New Zealand. I wonder how, then, that effects our monarchs?

    Shaun.

    in reply to: Late season butterflies. #16277

    Shaun
    Participant

    Well, “Late season butterflies” indeed! It’s now May 13th and I still have larvae in all stages, butterflies flying around my garden, still laying eggs and quite a few pupae around, one looks like it’ll emerge this afternoon. Amazing.

    One good thing about this “Indian summer”, the plants seem to grow faster in relation to the speed the cats eat them than they did in high summer. Therefore, although all my plants have cats on them, the plants are actually still growing rather than being stripped as they were earlier.

    For those members who haven’t seen it, I strongly suggest you watch a video called “An Inconvenient Truth” by US politician Al Gore about global warming and world-wide weather change. It’ll make you think. And hopefully do what you can to reverse the trend. (However, if I was buying a house now I’d make sure that it was at least 50m above sea-level)

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 73 total)