Monarch caterpillars eating into seed pods

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  • #33488

    Lyn Nicholls

    Hi,  I am at Waikanae Beach on the Kapiti Coast; have lived here for 15 years and I have never seen so many Monarchs in any other year, as this season.Last year I bought three swan plants and they all got eaten up by caterpillars!  One of those sticks struggled along and has flourished now into approx 2 metre tall bush that has 33 large seed pods. Earlier on I had lots of caterpillars but the parasitic wasps killed them all.  It was quite sad, as the wasps did not seem to start killing them until they were big and fat and close to changing into chrysalis.We are now experiencing cooler mornings and evenings and the parasitic wasps have gone.  My lone swan plant looks rather untidy with nibbled bits here and there and has numerous caterpillars.  One photo is of a caterpillar that has eaten its way into a seed head ball and seems to be munching on the central core.  Not sure if this is what they usually do?  There is also still foliage available for them to eat. I hope to harvest seed if they leave me some!

    Jacqui Knight replied directly to my ?……..Yes, from time to time, when swan plants get scarce – or there is no new growth, and the fruit are succulent, they will tuck into the seed pods.
    Lyn Nicholls

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  • #33635


    I had this problem with tropical plants and a friend stitched me up some little net “bags” which I put the seed pod into. It also captured the seed, rather than it blowing away. The bags sealed with Velcro at the top. Might work for you.



    I too have more swamp milkweed seed pod eating than I do swan plant pod eating, although they do sometimes go for the latter.  I wonder if the samp milweed pod is more succulent, it seems to be a fleshier capsule and doesnt have the pickles to navigate.



    Yes, my cats decided my seed pods on my tropical milkweed were quite tasty, luckily they didn’t eat the whole thing, and I managed to get seed from it. They just seem to do it sometimes.

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