Admiral Butterflies Christchurch

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    I bought 5 caterpillars inside early June when the weather turned really cold, wet and windy and have raised them under a nylon expandable food cover. I had just enough little nettle plants around the garden to keep them going and I put sprigs in water in little glass vitamin bottles with some tissue wrapped around the stems at the point where I pushed them into the top of the bottle so the cats wouldn’t fall into the water. There were 3 brownish coloured cats and 2 blacks. The browns eventually happily crawled up the sides of the netting cover and turned into pupa? but the blacks didn’t like that environment for going into pupa and kept escaping and crawling around so I put them back outside. Yesterday one butterfly emerged indoors and I released it outside today on a very rare sunny day here. The surprise is that I think it was a Yellow. It was brownish overall with a large creamy yellow patch on the wings with 2 small yellow patches. This has been my first attempt at raising them inside. Will these Admirals be able to winter over in Christchurch? (I kept them in cool conditions away from heating)

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    Bringing autumn cats inside to protect them from the ‘cold’ might not be a good idea, but feel free to protect them from pests and predators! There would be no harm in bringing them inside during the summer.



    Thanks Norm. Three butterflies have emerged and I’ve released them but although we have had a few sunny days in Christchurch (at last!), night temps have been cold so I doubt they will have survived. I haven’t done the best thing by bringing them in but I have learned a lot about Admirals. I’ve let nettle grow in my garden for years thinking it must have a little flower that the butterflies fed on. I had never noticed the caterpillars or their little tents. It was only that I saw a butterfly lay eggs on a nettle plant by the back door that I really started to take notice of what was happening. I think they are lovely and next summer/autumn I will be an interested hands-off observer.



    Hi Sue,

    You pose a query to which there is little recorded information. Autumn emerged Admiral butterflies will overwinter like Monarchs until spring when they will re-produce again. Bringing Admiral caterpillars indoors out of the cold may seem a kind thing to do, but unlike Monarch caterpillars they are perfectly equipped to survive frosts and snow, wrapped up in their little tents in a slowed rate of metabolism and eating sparingly until warmer temperatures of near Spring will see them mature, pupate and emerge as adults.
    Bringing them indoors to temperatures better than outdoors will encourage them to progress at a normal rate and emerge as adults, and even if released on a sunny day they may not survive the cold nights and following wintry days.
    Admiral caterpillars, being indigenous, have been coping with natures elements for generations.
    Hope this helps.


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