Monarch Caterpillars in winter

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  • #56816


    I am in Levin in the NI and have around 50 caterpillars in various stages on swan plants in my greenhouse. Some are still munching away whilst others seem to be almost comotose. There are some that have gone to chrysalis stage. Will swan plants survive through winter in my greenhouse, and more importantly, will the caterpillars and chrysalis?

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  • #56876


    Given the light conditions this time of year … short days, low light, cloudy conditions often etc. I’ve decided to experiment with artificial light as well as natural light. So I’ve bought in my last 4 caterpillars and put them in a small butterfly castle with cuttings of swan plant. The castle is light and easy to shift round. so far I’m getting a good response from my 4 amigos, they have lurched back from comatose to full eating mode. I’ve got them in the house overnight and leave a light on till later evening and put them in well lit windows in the morning … they can go outside in the sun today when it warms up. Even if one makes it through it will be better than watching them all die.



    Leslie is spot on. Day length is as important as warmth. Not every caterpillar is destined to become a beautiful butterfly – some are going to become food for other species, even the soil. It’s part of Nature.

    Celebrate your successes! And keep up the good work.



    I’m in Wellington. Same thing happening with my caterpillars. I have a hothouse too, and I’ve come to the conclusion after several years of observations that the length of daylight is as important as warmth. I have about 5 caterpillars left in hothouse that are more or less comatose, I don’t expect them to survive long enough to pupate. Of the six bigger cats I bought inside last week, two pupated, 2 were pupation fails, one just went comatose and died and the other is comatose. All caterpillars had ample food and warmth and exposure to whatever light there was available. So its just the time of year and I don’t think there is much you can do. I have 10 chrysalids left I have inside that I hope will survive. Your swan plants should survive overwinter unless they are exposed to frost and too much rain where they can’t drain, and of course if they are not too chewed up and have very little or no leaves left.
    good luck and just think of the successes you have had 🙂

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