Monarch caterpillars disappearing

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  • #14123


    My husband I have limited knowledge about Monarch butterflies but are very keen to learn. We purchased several swan plants and have had quite a few caterpillars on them. However they grow quite large and disappear. We assume they have become somethings meal! If so what is the predator likely to be? Do swan plants develop regrowth after they have been stripped and are they frost hardy. If not is it feasible to pot them up for the winter? We are in Christchurh

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  • #23444


    Hi Colleen,
    Add to that list WASPS! Proper mongrels they are, and most people have had real dramas with them all season. Also shield beetles and spiders. Even Pillars will eat Pillars (big eats small) : (, shudder shudder. Generally they wont though unless theyre crowded. You can counteract this by having different sizes in different locations, if for any reason you need to have them in close proximity, like inside.

    I imagine CHCH will certainly be capable of giving you some cold weather from here on in. How people "do their Monarchs" is largely dictated by the weather. Frosts are the biggest thing. Swanplants will withstand a few minor to medium frosts, but they have a habit of turning their toes up without warning, if theyve had to endure too many, or theyve been too cold. Last year I lost most of my SPs and they were covered! Our winter was pretty cold here (Manawatu), but then again someone else had theirs just planted in a sheltered spot but not covered and they survived.

    Cheers Swansong



    Hi Colleen

    You will I am sure find lots of information here that will help you – different posters will give you different ideas.

    When you say "quite large", what size is that? If they are about 3cm long (I wish I had a ruler with me that I could check that measurement!) then they may be crawling away to pupate.

    There are a range of predators – hedgehogs, praying mantids, mice and rats, shining cuckoos to name a few.

    The swan plants will regrow, especially if you give them a good dose of a natural manure/mulch and water them well. They are not frost tolerant but yes it's possible to pot them up, or replant them underneath eaves, against a warm wall etc so they will get maximum protection against the winter weather.

    Hope this is helpful.



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