Crazy ants

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  • #60845

    Millimo
    Participant

    I am interested in others opinions, experiences. I am now certain that at my place at least, the monarchs greatest enemy has been ants. I think they are ‘crazy ants’, quite different from the ants that invade the kitchen. I have had dozens of butterflies busy laying eggs all summer and have had very few caterpillars grow to any size. There is evidence of eggs hatching, the egg case is eaten and the plant tissue immediately around where the egg was and then no further sign of the caterpillar. I did catch one in th act of attacking a tiny caterpillar that I had replaced on the plant when I saw it hanging by a silk thread. So it has been a disastrous year for the monarchs, I would have had no more than a dozen get to butterfly stage. Since this is a new experience for me I strongly suspect the main problem is the decorative mulch I placed on the garden and around the huge swan plant that I was expecting would result in a bumper year of butterflies.

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  • #60857

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Yes, ants sure are a problem. And there are 40 different species known in NZ! Perhaps more. Do you know which ones you’ve got? I read there are about 15,000 species in Australia!

    “Of the species found in New Zealand, only 11 are endemic (native to New Zealand) and 29 are introduced (accidentally brought to New Zealand), most of them from Australia.”

    The Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) is I believe a really bad pest. According to DOC, they are in “…many parts of Auckland, Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch.”

    The best way to tell them from other ant species is by their colour and trails. They are 2-3 mm long, honey-brown (most other ants seen in New Zealand are black), often moving in large, distinctive trails of five or more ants wide and close together like a multi-lane motorway and able to readily climb trees.”

    Whereabouts in NZ are you?

    #60850

    LeslieD
    Participant

    I have similar problems with the big plants in my garden. Eggs get laid but very few hatch .. they get eaten .. and of those that do hatch very few caterpillars live past the teeny tiny stage. Yet the plants are fine for bigger caterpillars from my plants elsewhere. I’ve always suspected the tiny golden spiders that lurk in the foliage .. they are quite small and golden coloured and when discovered leap off the foliage into the garden.

    Right now I’m kind of grateful for a big source of feed as we have had a late surge here in Welly and I’m relocating caterpillars from my other plants and also caterpillars from a friends plants which have been decimated.

    All the same at this stage I have released just 15 butterflies and 11 of those were from caterpillars sourced from elsewhere. I have a lot of large caterpillars and chrysalids now and providing the weather does not crap again any time soon things should improve. Its a very different season to any I’ve seen before. No butterflies seem to have arrived in Makara on the south coast and I’m using large empty plants there as an overflow as well.

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