Caterpillars dying

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  • #46994


    We have a nice big swan plant which we planted last spring. It’s been inundated with caterpillars so we bought 4 more plants and transferred 2 halfgrown caterpillars to each new plant. They all disappeared within 3 days. We again transferred 2 caterpillars to each new plant and kept a close eye on them. Within a day or so they became sluggish and died. The caterpillars on the older plant which is only a metre away from the new plants are fine.
    My first thought was that the new plants had been sprayed but I have been assured they were not. I transferred the second lot by moving each caterpillar with its leaf so as not to squish it. No insecticides or pesticides are ever used on our plants.
    I’m wondering whether anyone in Christchurch has made similar observations? A complaint to the garden centre where I bought the plants saw me fobbed off with comments like ‘you never know who used spays in your neighbourhood’, touching the caterpillars kills them’ etc (it’s year 7 for us and nothing like this has ever happened).

Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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  • #47081


    Hi Bev

    Sorry to hear about your experience. Please contact the retailer and it’s very important that you get the name of the person you speak to. Ask to speak to the manager. Tell them of how upset you are.

    I have had some phone conversations with retailers this summer and in some cases they’ve pulled all their swan plants because they’ve had one or two customners complain!

    Do the plants come with labels – can you tell who the grower is? This is quite often helpful. We have worked with the folk at Zealandia and they understand the importance of not releasing sprayed plants for sale.

    You can understand the predicament of a grower, however, trying to grow “nice” plants and then aphids or one female monarch gets into the growing house. Economic disaster!

    Most retailers, however, these days keep their swan plants with other edibles and ensure they don’t get sprayed but all it needs is for one person who doesn’t know or doesn’t listen or doesn’t care to wave a bit of chemical at them and the swan plants are not fit for monarchs. We have even known some plants to have been sprayed with a cocktail of sprays to combat caterpillars, aphids, sooty mould and other potential pests!

    I’m an organic grower so don’t like pesticides full stop. But I know there are people and/or businesses out there who believe pesticides are a part of “nature”.

    You might find the information under SPECIES / PLANTS above helpful too.

    All the more reason to grow enough plants for your caterpillars or source a caterpillar-friendly grower. Of course, you’ll NEVER have enough plants… the more you have, the more female monarchs will come… and aphids will think your place paradise too. All part of nature!



    I’ve also brought some plants and I’m convinced they are sprayed. They are all dying 🙁 I got mine from Mitre10 Rangiora. The ones I brought from Warehouse Belfast/Northlands were fine and had heaps survive. I haven’t talk to the people at Mitre10 Rangiora yet. Can’t be neighbours spray as we live on a farm and have no neighbours as such.



    Thank you for the replies. I guess quite a few people go and buy a few more plants when they have too many caterpillars. We usually only have 2 to 6 caterpillars all season so we were caught out with the 30+ caterpillars we had this season.



    Thanks. I, too, am convinced they have been sprayed. Possibly by mistake but it’s disheartening. Has this happened to anyone else?



    The way to avoid this awful event is to buy plants before they are needed so if they have been sprayed a few weeks later they will be ok for the caterpillars. I suggest you don’t buy new plants and make them immediately available to caterpillars and don’t put them on a new plant. I am so sorry this has happened. Caryl



    Sounds to me like those plants have been sprayed,even though the supplier denied it. Maybe you could give them a good wash with the hose. Perhaps even hose them several times over a few days, then try again with relocating a couple of larvae.

    Good luck.

Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)

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