Autumn butterflies

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  • #56784


    Hi everyone,
    I’m in Nelson and all summer have been trying to save as many of the monarch butterflies as I can from the paper wasp which seems to have exploded in population here. The wasps hang around the swan plants and take eggs but I did see one attack a catterpiller which was hanging in the “j” shape. This happened in the short period of time I had my enclosure open! They were pretty persistent. Thankfully the cooler weather means the wasps are no longer around but it also means the last of the catterpillers may have left it to late.

    My question really is about what it can be that is that’s happening to the ones hatching out now. They hatch fine (I bring them inside) but they just seem to go downhill from then on. Is it just to cold for them to fly? No frosts here yet and mornings hovering around the 12-15 degree mark. I have thought there’s a possibility it’s sonething in the environment inside and they are more likely to come in contact with it as they are spending more time inside than there midsummer siblings. Are they particularly susceptible to poisons?
    It’s been a frustrating season sure. I wish I’d remembered about the tagging program earlier. I must have released 80+ butterflies.


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  • #56812


    JPetty – I hope you’re receiving this message – please sign up for the e-news and then you’ll get a reminder of the tagging program next year.




    How do you mean, downhill? Oh yes, they are susceptible to poisons – for example flea treatment on pets, plug in pest controls.

    Just let them go – they’ll find an overwintering habitat for sure. Instead of taking them indoors put them in the sunniest part of the garden and they’ll be sure to fly away. Remember they don’t need to feed for the first 24 or 48 hours or so… but they know when they need to feed.

    The wasps harvest protein (e.g. caterpillars) throughout the summer to feed the juvenile wasps. When the juveniles are fully grown, all of the wasps then seek out nectar. So they are still around, but not needing protein any more so the butterflies are safe.

    PS You might be interested to know that eggs hatch, but the right term for butterflies emerging from the chrysalis is “eclose”. It’s great how much knowledge we can pick up – the more we know about butterflies, the more we realise we don’t know! If you’re interested, there is a useful glossary here:

    Keep up the good work, J Petty.

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