Culling Eggs


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  • #12754

    Mike Fox

    We grew a swan plant ‘forest’ in our Wellington home last year and had NOT ONE visit from a monarch!! This year, upon moving to Hamilton we decided to plant some swan plants so that our boys (age 2 and 3) could watch the life cycle of these gorgeous butterflies. So far we have had 12 butterflies and another 10 have just become christali and I have another 6 cats grazing on my decimated plants! We have made 2 trips to the garden center to buy 12 plants as our ‘monarch family’ has become a bit of an obsession.

    I know there is no way that our plants can support the number of eggs that have been laid so rather than allowing the cats to die of starvation, I have been culling eggs to stop them from hatching to allow the cats that we have a chance to pupate.

    Some days I have been ‘culling’ between 40 and 50 eggs. Buying more plants is not financially an option for us, and seeds will not sprout in time to feed these ravenous little caterpillars! I read that butterflies are not meant to lay more than 1 egg per plant to give the cats the best chance possible!

    I’ve been feeling guilty about this practice!! Does anyone else reduce their populations by removing eggs from their plants? Any other options? Is this a common practice or something demented that I’ve come up with?

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  • #15626


    Dear Becky,

    I have had no trouble with ravenous caterpillars as I’ve been feeding them Kapok Weed, known as “Cruel Vine” for 2-3 years. It’s a weed and the flowers kill the monarch butterlies, but the monarch caterpillars thrive on it and grow into healthy normal butterflies.

    By feeding them this you are creating more monarch caterpillars and ridding NZ of a noxious pest that kills butterflies.

    However, a word of advice – only pick healthy weed and wash it everytime. Plus, I suspect that many spray it with weed killer and that will surely kill monarch caterpillars.

    Good Luck!

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