Monarch migration and transferring caterpillars

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  • #49623


    Hi everyone,
    New to the site, and new to learning about butterflies.
    I’m blessed that we have three massive swan plants at work, but not caterpillars because of the wasps – grr.
    I’ve seen people where I live offering caterpillars because they’ve got too many, and thought about taking some to work, but am concerned that moving them will screw up their migration.
    I live about 50km from work, so worried that moving them 50k from where the eggs hatched to a new swan plant to pupate on would confuse them and they wouldn’t know how to get home, or perhaps even which home to go to when they did fly off.
    Are my concerns valid, or does it not bother caterpillars/butterflies as much as I imagine?

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  • #49632


    Hi Fi and Jacqui,
    Thanks for the answers.
    I’m glad that the butterflies wont get confused. I might bring some to work on Tuesday. I’m in Maraetai so there are a lot of people on FB saying they need homes for their caterpillars.
    I’m really lucky to work in an office which has a therapeutic garden. We have a lovely lady who comes in to tend to all our plants. Our biggest swan-‘tree’ had a branch fall over in the storm in the weekend – and it was the branch where the caterpillars seem to be safest from the wasps. Our gardener will come in on Sunday to tend to the plant – but I do have some tutu-netting at home which I think I will bring in. I was just worried about whether the butterflies could still lay eggs through it, and how to help the butterflies escape once they emerge. The swan-tree is about 2.5m tall, and I’m only 1.5m tall! I am all for annoying the wasps!
    Many thanks



    Monarchs orient once they eclose as Mature Butterflies. They have exceptonal memory and cognitive skills. They will also bond (imprint) to us. I read about their ability in a study on animal ability completed at Harvard University- recently published in the Dominion. To orient they use the magnetic poles/lines of the Earth as well as visual cues, and apply their superior cognitive problem solving skills! Awesome!! Fiona



    Hi Xyphir and welcome to the forum

    I take it you’re in New Zealand? I don’t think it would affect our monarchs here as they don’t seem to “migrate” as such. They certainly overwinter but there are overwintering sites up and down the country and probably a lot more that we haven’t recorded.

    So I would not worry too much about transferring them. However, to give the caterpillars some protection against the wasp, when you move them there I suggest putting the caterpillars at the base of the plant so that they crawl up themselves AND throwing an old net curtain over the plant, to give the caterpillars a bit more protection. Doesn’t need to be “airtight” – just make it more difficult for wasps to navigate their way in between the branches.

    Good luck and good on you.

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