Monarch larvae eating Hoya spp.

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  • #13010

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Hi all

    I received an email this afternoon from Julie who says:

    We have raised butterflies for several years now, and are currently going through the ‘we have no food’ scenario. I was very surprised to go out in the back yard this afternoon and find that the caterpillars have moved off the swan plants I am ‘eeking’ out for them, and are eating the hoya that was sitting on the plant stand.

    Has anyone else heard of this? I believe that the plant they are eating is of this variety

    http://www.hoyaplants.com/images/hoyaplants/h_bilobata.jpg

    Do you know if it will hurt the caterpillars?

    PS Hoya is a genus of 200-230 species of tropical climbing plants in the family Apocynaceae (Dogbane), native to southern Asia (India east to southern China and southward), Australia, and Polynesia.

    Common names for this genus are waxplant, waxvine, waxflower or simply hoya. Asclepias and Gomphocarpus are in the same family.

    Anyone care to comment?

Viewing 13 replies - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)
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  • #17246

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi guys. Just thought that you’d like to know that our experimental caterpillars hatched this week, with mixed results. Two that I know were eating the hoya seemed to hatch with no wing deformity, but another two that were also eating the hoya hatched with crumpled wings that didn’t straighten. So I don’t know if the hoya did that or if there was something else going on. We’ve hatched about 5 crumpled wing butterflies this summer, which is unusual. Although given that we’ve hatched between 30 and 40 in total, and we’ve had four or five ‘duds’, I don’t know if it’s related.

    #17220

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    I have been interested in the threads on the caterpillars eating Hoya. My Sister in Law
    found a single Monarch caterpillar feeding on her Hoya bella recently, she has no milkweed plants and a chat amongst the neighbours revealed the nearest milkweed plant was 40 metres away. While Monarch caterpillars are reported to eat everything from pumpkin to Hoya, eat and survive are two different factors, as is evident by the pumpkin scenario. Why doesn’t the Monarch butterfly oviposit on these ? Mother knows best !

    #17213

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi,

    I have just found a book, Which NZ Insect by Andrew Crowe (2002) mention that caterpillars have being known to eat Honey Plant (Hoya). I don’t know if this is the same variation of Hoya through.

    Robert.

    #17056

    CathMitchell
    Participant

    Hi Jackie

    Yes, I have a hoya bella (the small leaf variety) in a hanging basket in my garden. I think the reason the monarch larvae latch on to it is that it also has a milky sap like the milkweed or swan plant. Some years ago when we had no swan plants we discovered that about 11 larvae were busily munching their way through our hoya – they looked great so it can’t have bothered them one bit however the hoya looked decidedly sad. It has taken several years for the hoya to recuperate and now we stock swan plants to avoid the same problem.

    #16887

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Sure, Jacqui. I will do that some time this week. The Monarchs seem to be faring OK. At last count, we had 30+ chrysalis scattered around the back yard. We have hatched a butterfly today, and one yesterday. One of the chrysalis that was (I think) a ‘hoya’ caterpillar seems to have been decimated somehow. The top part of the chrysalis remains, but the bottom is completely gone. There are now 3 chrysalis that I would say were ‘hoya’ caterpillars, having eaten the hoya over the past week. They should be out in about 10 days.

    #16882

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Julzk – can you take a cutting of the Hoya into a garden centre sometime? We’d be interested to know what one it is. And how are the Monarchs faring?

    #16854

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi Jacqui

    I am at work now, but then I am fortunate that I like my Job!

    #16853

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Sorry to hear about your arm, Terry! What a nuisance – or is it a bonus – in that you can have some time off work, and get some other things done?

    J.

    #16852

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi Jacqui

    Spring has not sprung here in the UK yet, in fact we had hard frosts last week and on Wednesday 13th at 0730 I managed to fall over on some black ice outside my house and I broke my arm. The days were nice and sunny so this was a bonus as it helped to keep the Butterfly House nice and hot during daylight hours. Apart from that the Yellow Admirals are doing OK and I am hoping for another successful year with them.

    #16850

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    They are still there, eating the hoya. I’m really sorry, but I don’t know what kind of hoya it is. It was a cutting taken from my mother’s plant. I will keep you all posted, there are still 3x caterpillars on the hoya, despite the fact that there is a fresh(ish!) swanplant sitting right next to it. It will be interesting to see what happens with them.

    #16847

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Hi Terry! How’re things over there? Spring rearing its head yet?

    I think they said Hoya bilobata.

    Chip Taylor (Monarchwatch) has responded and said:

    I’ve written on monarchs feeding on hoyas/waxplants in New Zealand. I believe the article was published in one of our Season Summaries some years ago (>2001). As I recall, while it was evident that monarchs would start feeding on these plants, it wasn’t established that they successfully finished development. At one time I borrowed a few hoyas (a different species from the one shown below) from the University greenhouse and tried to get monarchs to feed on these plants. The feeding trials were unsuccessful.

    #16846

    Terry
    Participant

    I tried my Monarch larvae on Hoya carnosa many years ago and they didn’t like it!
    Which type of Hoya was it that these Monarchs decided to eat?
    I know that some Crow Butterflies of Australia will eat Hoya.

    Terry

    #16844

    margie
    Participant

    Hi Jacqui,
    I have the smaller leaf variety of Hoya and if you break the leaf it leaks a milky liquid like the milk weed does.
    Cheers Margie

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