Breeding Red Admirals

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  • #14036

    Rob
    Participant

    Hi, all. I have finally got Red Admiral butterflies which I'd love to breed and release. I have two issues. First is what is the general consensus on say releasing Red Admirals in Auckland, when the population was initally sourced in Taumarunui? Second is I have had the imagos now for some two weeks, but no sign of eggs. I have mimicked a forest margin environment, and provided Bush nettle, annual nettles, lots of flowers, and have had signs of mating…. but no eggs. Maby I am two anxious for the reds to oviposit? The Reds have had only two weeks inside a shadehouse of 6sq m surface area and 2m high, and some are already badly battered. As soon as I have Jacquis' DVD on pairing I'll be attempting to hand pair them.

    My Yellow Admiral population I have sucesfully bred inside tha same dimension shadehouse as the reds. So I assume the Red Admirals should be OK despite being larger than the yellows

    Cheers, Rob

Viewing 16 replies - 1 through 16 (of 16 total)
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  • #30425

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi Anna

    It’s the same for me in this part of the world. The Red Admiral (B Gonerilla) was always more difficult to pair than the Yellow Admirals which will even pair on the shortest day of the year in the south east UK, although it has to be warm enough in the Butterfly House in the daytime to achieve this. I think the Red Admiral (B Gonerilla) has evolved as a resident in NZ to react more to photoperiodicity whereas the Yellow Admiral which is also found in Australia and still migrates in to NZ occasionally, has no real need to stop breeding, and in Australia the winters are shorter and warmer so it is therefore not controlled by day-length (photoperiod) in the same manner. I am amazed at the wide tolerance of B Itea to extremes of temperature. I have had no problems with it surviving in temperatures of up to 38c and down to -3c for short periods whereas B Gonerilla would suffer greatly or perish at 33c but could take -3c for longer periods then B Itea.

    #30422

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Interesting, Anna! It’s sure been a strange season, eh?

    #30419

    Anna
    Participant

    Yesterday (May 31st) I had a pairing of Red Admirals in my outdoor butterfly house. Its unheated, but we have been having some sunny days after cold nights.(down to frosts -2)
    I have found so far that Yellow Admirals pair much more readily than Reds even though they are in the same environment.

    #23404

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi Rob

    I think you got them all, but it's Urtica urens and Urtica dioica.

    #23401

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Hi Rob

    Have you had a look at the document put together by Darren Gedye? It's very thorough. See link above.

    Jacqui

    #23398

    Rob
    Participant

    Thanks Terry. Must have been old info. I also cant find where I got those names from so deleted those two plants (Thistle & Pellitory) off my list of Red Admiral food plants. Can you tell me of my list below, are these all the nettles we have in NZ?
    Urtica ferox ?Ongaonga Stinging Nettle? 'Tree Nettle'.
    Urtica incisa 'Scrub Nettle'
    Urtica aspera
    Urtica linearifoli
    Urtica australis
    Urtica erens
    Urtica diocea

    #23261

    Terry
    Participant

    Bassaris Gonerilla does not feed on Thistle or Pellitory.
    Bassaris Itea does not thrive on Pellitory but will eat it if nettles are not available. My Captive Itea Don't like Boehmeria but will nibble it on occasion.
    Any Larvae found on Thistles in NZ are possible Vanessa Kershawi, Australian Painted lady and even this is not a favoured foodplant for them. The main food being Gnaphallium Spp.

    #23254

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Julie, there's also a very informative document here, put together by Darren Gedye.

    https://www.monarch.org.nz/other-species/beginners-guide-to-nettles/

    Cheers

    Jacqui

    #23253

    Rob
    Participant

    Hi July,

    In a nutshell Admirals only lay eggs on stinging nettles. Published info I know of is:

    Bassaris gonerilla gonerilla (red admiral)
    Urtica ferox (Ongaonga, Tree Nettle, Bush Nettle)- PERENNIAL. A large plant (3m high)
    U.incisa (Scrub Nettle).-ANNUAL. Used for herbal tea
    U.aspera. ANNUAL -possibly in South Island only?
    False nettle (Boehmeria cylindrical). ANNUAL
    Parietaria ?Pellitory?
    Thistle

    Bassaris gonerilla ida (Chattam Islands red admiral)
    Urtica australis. Chatham Island Nettle -up to 70cm tall

    Bassaris itea (Australian yellow admiral)
    Urtica erens (urens)

    The only perennial nettle I am aware of is Urtica ferox, which I obtained from Oratia Nursery in the Waitakere Ranges. They currently have this nettle in stock. The rest of the nettles I think are all annuals. There is also another nettle and it is strictly controlled by councils in their pest management strategies, this being Urtica diocea. In Rodney U diocea is banned form propagation, public display, and being moved from one place to another.

    The method of obtaining Admiral butterflies is to set up an enclosure, collect the food plants for the butterflies to lay their eggs on, and collect nectar plants for the butterflies to drink nectar from. Then when you are all set up you need to hunt for caterpillars. The only reason I ended up with red admirals was because I had a holiday in Taumarunui and met a local farmer who was inquiring why I was on his land. I told him about Red Admirals and stinging nettles. He then told me about his farmland and the Bush Nettle that was a hazard to his stock, and that he would be spraying the nettles on the bush perimeters. Of course one thing led to another and I ended up collecting Red Admiral caterpillars from their favored nettle (Bush Nettle). And that is how it is done. Once you have your breeding population then you can plant your garden as if it was an open air butterfly house. Then you breed and release butterflies into your garden.

    There are also two parasitic wasps to watch out for with red admirals. One is a rather large wasp called Echthromorpha intricatoria (Australian White Spotted Ichneumonid). It lays a single egg inside the pupae. The second is Petromalus puparum. This is a tiny black wasp introduced 1932-33 to control cabbage white. The wasp lays 50 or so eggs inside a fresh pupae. So part of the breeding set up will be to build a separate enclosure inside the butterfly house that is parasite proof. Any 5th instar caterpillars (ie really big ones just about to pupate) can be put into it and thus protect against the parasites.

    Hope that helps.

    Rob

    #23197

    julieholmes
    Participant

    Hi Rob, Wow, you are so lucky! Im in Helensville and am wanting to get red admirals in my garden so I can breed them. I already have a butterfly house that was an ex stud run for cats. Can I ask you what plants you used to attract them and where you got them from? thanks Julie

    #23190

    Rob
    Participant

    Hi jacqui,

    The quality is really poor, but the information is good. I was left with a very strong sence of exactly how the process works. I have seen one other prsentation from Utube, but in terms of expertise it does not match Nigel Venters prsentation. Overall I would recomend the prsentation despite the obvious difficulties in picture quality. Nigels inclusion of clear quality imags of the actual male/female parts helped me undestand the process very clearly.

    Rob

    #23183

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Brilliant Rob!

    I haven't looked at the DVD yet, but can possibly get more copies if you think they would be useful for other members.

    Let me know what you think of it.

    Jacqui

    #23181

    Rob
    Participant

    Thanks Norm for the quote on ecologcal boundaries. With our small population (4.3 million now ) butterfly enthausiasts are few and far between. Great to have scientific minds like George Gibbs arround.

    I wont be needing to try pairing just yet…I"VE GOT EGGS!!!!! Yay. Will definitly have a go at pairing once i've figured out the differences between males and females. They all look so similar.

    The DVD video (Ventures) had some good high quality images on Papilio male and female bits. The butterflies were big butterflies so it made the visual conceptual learning phase easier. Nigel Venters also mentioned some golden rulls on his DVD. The first one was to use freshly hatched females, and 3 day old males. As I have now got laying females I probably best wait till my next batch of reds hatch before I try pairing.

    The story to date: On the 14 Jan 2010, I found a population of Red Admirals in Taumaranui. I ended up with 10 Red Admiral carerpillars/pupae and 4 infected Red admiral pupae. These I hatched, with the last Red Admiral hatching 10th Febuary. I kept the Echthromorpha parasites for reference (I had also never seen one before). What pleased me the most was that the reds settled down very nicely in their shadehouse. My wife noticed how they would play with each other in the wind, but we never saw them mating, and all my inspections for eggs were to no avail. It was only when I was inside the shadehouse having a good old chat with my next door neighbour across the fence(who insidently really apreciated having Yellow Admirals in his garden) that a Red Admiral promptly flew down to my feet and laid a single egg on the underside of a bush nettle (U. ferox)leaf. I have since raised up the level of one of my ferox plants to encourage oviposition. So all in all the Red Admirals have mated under my nose and I dident get to see it. Suspisions are that playing in the wind was a lot more than fun and games.

    #23128

    Charlotte
    Participant

    Hi Rob,

    Cd on its way today to you. Enjoy your hand pairing.

    Char

    #23124

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    Hi Rob,

    Been away for 3 days and just catching up.

    1. Bassaris gonerilla,the NZ red admiral – quote " This species clearly has the potential to migrate but as yet no regular flights within New Zealand have been detected. Many of its close relatives are known as migrants; Bassaris itea often joins with flights of Cybthia kershawi in Australia and the European red admiral, Vanessa atalanta regularly flies from winter breeding area in North Africa and southern Europe to raise a summer generation in northern Europe and Britain".
    (Ref.Gibbs)unquote. Any butterfly that has the ability to fly long distances is not likely to be confined by ecological boundaries.

    2. I have found reds and yellows are as different as chalk and cheese in their behaviour within an enclosure.
    Are you sure your reds have mated? The female will normally begin ovipositing within a couple of days after mating. Two things are necessary, a good supply of nectar, and the nettles situated high in the enclosure rather than down low.
    Its a good idea to have both the nectar source and the hostplant close together. I find cut Buddleia flowers in water a good source of nectar, and the banned B.davidii lasts a lot longer than most of the other cultivars.

    Have you tried the hand pairing yet? The reds can be quite feisty.

    Norm.

    #23079

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Hi Rob

    Somewhere I've read about the importance of putting sources of nectar near the top of the butterfly house, right up near the roof – will see if I can find that again… hope you get some other tips and that handpairing DVD should be with you in the next few days.

    Jacqui

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