beginner needs help

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    I have had swan plants for the first time this year mainly so my children could watch the whole fascinating process, however I seem to have become rather obsessed myself!! We are in Wellington and it is pretty cold so I brought my remaining caterpillars inside. I had two butterflies come out today and now I do not know what to do.. I have read through other postings but am still not sure..

    1. Do I put them outside and see if they fly away?

    2. Do I have to find a cluster whatever this may be?

    3. Do I need to feed them immediately?

    4. If they are inside can I just have them willy nilly in the room or do they have to be in a cage?

    Helpp any advice greatly appreciated


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    its nicky i think you should take the baby ones in side and put something over the plant whan it rains and try protectem


    well… i liv in welly to but i only have 3 how many do u have?

    andwere about do u live?



    Hi there Petonemonarchs,
    foloow this link
    it shows 2 Wellington clusters that you may be able to find.
    Welcome and good luck
    Cheers Stu



    There are a couple I’ve heard about. There is one in Strathmore I believe, and a large one in Tawa in 2 old pine trees. I’m going to take mine to Tawa this afternoon and try releasing them there. Let me know if you need more detail.

    I’ve haven’t been lucky enough to find a colony myself for ages – I don’t go walking enough! A few years ago there was always a colony in the park behind the Little Theatre in Lower Hutt. I haven’t been out there for the last 2 or 3 years so don’t know if they still come there.

    People sometimes post sightings of clusters on this website under “sightings” which is how I found out about the Tawa one.



    Clair have you found a cluster in Wellington? How do you find them are they in trees?



    Hmmm another one!! Amazing how they get to you, isn’t it. It’s the same for me – first year, and totally obsessed. I’m also in Wellington, so appreciate the problem with the weather! My experience is that at this time of year they won’t just fly away if you put them outside unless it is sunny enough for them to bask in the sun for an hour or two first. I have my last 4 butterflies which have all emerged in the last few grey and rainy days, and because it is so late in the year I’m planning to take them to a cluster to release them. I think this will give them the best chance of surviving the winter. I’m not sure if they absolutely have to find a cluster (or colony) in order to survive the harsh winter weather, but at this stage I’m not risking anything. There are photographs of over-wintering colonies on the website under photographs – worth a visit even if you don’t have butterflies to release.

    No, you don’t have to feed them immediately. If I need to keep them inside for a few days (as in now)I try feeding on day 2. Because they are so sluggish in the cold weather, sometimes they are not interested until the third day.

    Many people have them free in a room, so they don’t have to caged. I keep mine under netting because otherwise my cats would have them for breakfast.

    There are heaps of ways to do things that work perfectly – go with what suits you and you feel happy with. There is an amazing amount of help available in this forum too – I have found people are very generous with help and advice, so keep coming back!



    Hi petonemonarchs, and welcome! : )

    I’ll answer your questions in the light of what I would do:

    I would see if I could find a cluster. Perhaps someone from the Wellington area might know of one and chime in. This is a great place for people who can give info like this. There is still much to be learnt about what Monarchs do at this time of the year, hence the tagging programme. I live in the country myslef and I cant always just go into town where I know where theres a cluster for me to take mine to. In the meantime till I go in again, I keep what has hatched (at the mo I have a splendid lady) and I’ll keep her fed on honey and water as I have very little if anything of natural flowers, which are better and theres plenty on this forum to find out what flowers are best.

    A cool darker room is better then a room filled with the warmth of winter fires and such, unless you protect your butterfly from bashing itself and wrecking its wings on the window panes, by putting up nets. If you put her outside on a fine day, she’ll probably be fine and fly away but I dont know for sure. I just found a pretty much perfect butterfly dead on my drive and I’m puzzled as to why. Full abdomen and everything OK but who knows? Im wanting to know just how important clusters are to a butterflys survival, so Im still learning too.

    Dont need to worry about feeding for the 1st day or even 2. Generally the more warm the rrom is where it will be kept, the more activity and therefore the more it will want to feed. Dont fooled by their “docility” especially 1st thing on cold morns. They can almost appear dead at times, so its best to let them “wake up” and getting warmed up before attempting to feed them or indeed moving them. Its best when you do move them, to coax the butterfly onto your finger. They taste the food through their feet so its best to put them on something saturated with a water/honey mixture solution … again … if you have no nectar flowers.


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