Monarch Population Survey Dec 2019/Jan 2020

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  • #57953


    How’s the state of the monarch population in your garden? Some people say it’s great… but there seem to be more telling us that it’s not good – and by now we should have had two or even three generations of monarchs (depending on where in NZ you are).

    So we have launched another survey and we urge you to ask anyone and everyone in NZ who has swan plants (or other milkweed) to contribute their thoughts in the survey and if they wish to make further comment, leave them here. The data in the survey can be measured – the survey can be found here:

    It will be LIVE until 31 December. We will repeat the survey mid-January to see if the situation has changed. It would be appreciated if you could respond to both this and the next survey.

    Feel free to add additional comments after this post.

Viewing 18 replies - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)
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    Shanny – there are people crying out for eggs. Could you send them somewhere instead of killing them? Check out @MonarchMatchmaker on Facebook, please.



    I’m on the east side of Christchurch and at the start of the season I was worried because I didn’t see any monarchs but since Christmas it has been full on. Every day I’m having to remove 50+ eggs because they are swarming my house. My caterpillar survival rate Is about 80% and all of the chrysalis that have hatched have been 100% healthy



    I live in Rotorua and for the past 2 weeks I’ve had at least 2 Monarchs visiting my garden daily and laying eggs on Swan plants.I have an outside Butterfly house where I am keeping larger plants protected,outside stock plants are covered in netting and I have 6 plants inside with cater pillars and one chrysalis.
    A few years ago I attempted to raise Monarchs but every day the caterpillars disappeared and I became quite stressy! I’m a bit more educated this time round and look out any wasps,ants,birds,spiders,pray Manthis that come between me and my Monarchs.



    NW Christchurch
    The first caterpillars after the windy, cold and wet weather have arrived.
    There have been frequent visits by egg laying monarchs in the last 2 weeks.
    I currently have 79 swan plants with the majority still growing in the greenhouses.
    Only 14 are available for eggs to be laid on.
    Very excited about this years possibilities.



    Like everyone else we have ants taking eggs and wasps, praying mantis and spiders taking any cats in the garden so we now raise in a large caterpillar castle equivalent.
    Every day I collect eggs and once they hatch the cats are put on cut or potted plants in castle. Released as butterflies. Released 34 so far this season compared to 76 same time last year. But there now seems to be many more eggs and cats so expecting greater total numbers at the end of the season.
    Every sunny day 3-4 butterflies in our garden.
    Have over 100 plants some 2-3 metres so not expecting to have a food shortage at this point. However have noticed more white fly, and mealy bugs on my plants as well as a few aphids (promptly squished as soon as I see them before they can get established!).
    I’m in Bucklands Beach Auckland



    In Devonport I have observed over 100 butterflies emerge since the beginning of spring and unlike previous years many are still staying around my garden. The next generation is coming along now. I do spend a bit of time most days killing any wasp I see by spraying it with water and then squashing it between my garden glove covered fingers.


    Stan Baker

    Here on the Hill above Melling Station in Lower Hutt I have not seen a single Monarch this year and my 3 metre tall swan plant is in full flower with not a single egg. By this time last year the plant was covered with 2nd generation cats. I have a garden that is full of bright butterfly friendly flowers with hundreds of bees. We dont get wasp predators here, cheers



    Mt Eden, Auckland. Got off to a cracking start in Spring this year, dozens and dozens of cats, most hatched. They all managed to get into crysalids just as the wasps started to come. So lots of butterflies around now, laying. But the caterpillars don’t last long. The wasps spend all day combing the plants methodically. Nothing is making it to crysalid stage now.
    Typically here there’s a generation in Spring then another late Summer, and only a few survivors in between.
    Last late Summer/Autumn had laden plants, lots of crysalids, but the crysalids would disappear overnight. I couldn’t work out what was eating them. Spiders? The whole thing would disappear, or be snapped very cleanly off at the top rim.



    Here in Ilam, Christchurch, I had good numbers of eggs and lots of caterpillars in late October/early November, but these ate me out of swan plants within a few weeks. A number of butterflies hatched. Now (mid Dec) the swan plants are recovering and with new plants coming on I have plenty of food, but I have not seen any adults, eggs or caterpillars over the last few days.



    Hi all,

    Here in Sumner I have had 30 Monarchs hatch up until last week.Eggs were laid on 1 September.
    Despite my best efforts on “barrier contraception” I ended up wit more caterpillars than intended.
    20 went off to Bluff , I know though Facebook messages they were doing well, and 15 went off to North Christchurch and just over 20 went to the Christchurch Khatikea common Butterfly house where there were 20 hatched 2 weeks ago, all safely releases. Maria has also totally replanted the Butterfly house and it looks totally delicious now.

    My large collection of swan plants are now recovering and I am wondering it I need to facilitate one or two more generations to ensure overwintering specimen?

    There are plenty of our progeny flying around so I’m just wondering when I should make the plants accessible.

    Warm Festive greetings to you all




    There are quite a few eggs on my plants (I have LOTS of swan plants if anyone wants some or needs branches to feed cats – Hamilton). Somehow the butterflies are even getting into the netted area I keep for food….. However there must be something eating the eggs as there are very few cats. Those I find I take inside, & so far since October I have released 45 healthy butterflies, either from cats or from eggs. Quite a few butterflies in the garden at any given time



    In Christchurch I had one monarch visit my swan plants in October but the caterpillars disappeared within a week or 2 of November starting.

    The weather has been very windy making it difficult for them to fly as well as wet and cold at times.

    One Monarch was seen laying eggs about a week ago, so I am waiting and hoping their will be caterpillars



    Here in Lincoln, my season started earlier than in past years with eggs laid on my swan plants in early December and eclosing between 8th and 14th. Totally eaten out of swan plants. About 30 healthy Monarchs flew off. I did not use a castle at all and let nature take it’s course but did keep my cat away from newbie butterflies. About 3 deformed found which I destroyed. Great to see a red and yellow admiral on the flowering hedges.



    Here in the upper suburbs of Welly its usually a later start than the lower suburbs. Its colder, and this season has seen viler weather than normal with frequent heavy rain and gale force winds. Last year was the first year I’ve got started without immigrants.
    I think there is a ‘weight of numbers’ factor … I saw some individuals round but suspect they were boys and no girls. I did get some eggs in September same as last year but they came to nothing even under protection.
    My immigrant caterpillars have been raised in the hothouse and the chrysalids kept inside, outside was just too bad.
    Me and the neighbor have released 11 butterflies in the last two weeks, but only 3 males and they have been released in the last week. So we are hoping for better things and hoping the weather starts to co operate. Meanwhile got lots of big healthy plants!



    I haven’t seen a monarch in weeks here – had some eggs last month but they were eaten by wasps as soon as they hatched. Have been through the garden and destroyed any wasp nests i found so have fingers crossed that the butterflies come back soon



    Here in Hillsborough, I had plenty of eggs and caterpillars through last summer but all got eaten or taken by wasps. I usually only have them survive as the season changes and the wasps leave them alone. This is a small window in late summer and early Autumn. Last year the butterflies stopped coming early so I didn’t have many late layings. Had maybe 5 butterflies hatch where I’d noramlly have around 30.

    The first lot of eggs have been laid for this season so I’m keeping watch.



    Here in central Whangarei, exactly the same early summer pattern as last year…butterflies seen in the garden virtually every day, & eggs regularly laid but then they disappear & hardly any larvae observed. I got worried about this previously but calmed down when the breeding season took off in the autumn as wasps disappeared & continued all through winter. Only the cold wet weather in August caused a blip. So overall, the monarch population continues to look healthy. It’s by far the most commonly observed species in my garden during the year as a whole.



    I did the survey but my answers are based a little bit on me raising them in captivity, otherwise I had none. The first generation started laying and new caterpillars hatching and then the cats almost all disappeared and so did the butterflies. After rescuing the last caterpillars I could find, butterfly population is back to seeing around 5 more or less daily mating and laying eggs. Mostly wasps snatching them in my garden as well as bugs killing them.

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