Inside or Outside

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  • #15134


    Last year was my first year of raising monarch butterflies because I had shifted house and there were swan plants in my garden which surprisingly to me attracted monarch butterflies (well one anyway). I left the caterpillars to it and only towards the end brought them and some chrysalises inside to hatch since the weather was getting colder, it being about May. I notice from reading the forum that lots of you seem to have your caterpillars inside in castles or whatever so presumably your swan plants are in pots rather than in your gardens. Is this necessary or preferable? I live in the south of the south island and would have thought you people in the winterless north would leave your creatures outside.

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    Hi Kay,

    Outdoors, but occasionally indoors for us.

    Really pleased to hear from someone down in the deep south. I often wonder how you get on down there, as your circumstances are very climatically different. NZ is interesting like that isn’t it? So many different climates! When you were refering to the winterless north, you sure weren’t refering to us! (Palmerston North) We get quite harsh periods of winter here. Last year we had snow.

    The monarchs take care of themselves here and I leave them alone outdoors, but I do take care to watch for aphids on the swanplants and if there seemed to be major problems I would consider bringing some indoors. Luckily there are dozens of them flying in the garden with no apparent major issues. We do have wasps, and I try to eliminate any nests I find, but aim for a natural balance. We get huge outbreaks of mantis when there are new mantis hatchlings, but due to their cannibalistic tendancies they seem to eliminate each other to a point of natural balance too.

    I hope you can give us regular updates from the south. I think it was a good idea to bring in your crysalis indoors for protection when the weather got colder at the end of the season. I sometimes do the same when the freezing weather sets in.



    You could be right Jacqui – praying mantis are about as rare down here as monarchs!! We don’t have too many wasps, and currently the ladybirds are well outnumbering the aphids in our garden.



    Kay – although I have lots of caterpillars in castles, I have the castles outside on the deck, so they are in as “natural” conditions as possible, while still protecting the caterpillars from the wasps & mantises.
    I don’t have potted plants. I cut fresh branches off my swan plants every couple of days, crush the cut ends so that the branches can ‘drink’, and stand them in jars of fresh water in the castles.



    …in the meantime Jacqui, I squash them, and squirt the victims off the bush with the hose….they do breed like rabbits though don’t they? (They give birth to live young…fascinating to watch:)



    It’s only because we have more predators up here, I think, Kay. And most of the predators are relatively recent arrivals to the country. I don’t get any good vibes when I see wasps eating my caterpillars or South African preying mantis doing the same. But I do get a kick out of seeing butterflies…

    A very good point though. I like my garden to be as “natural” as possible, so a few days ago when I noticed a few aphids had arrived, I began to watch in case they take over completely. They can destroy a healthy milkweed quite happily. Hopefully in a few days/week I will have ladybirds and Aphidius colemani here feasting on the aphids and everything will come back to some sort of balance.


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