Nettles + Buddleia = Admirals!

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  • #41487


    A while ago Norm gave me some advice re attracting admirals to my garden (in Masterton). He assured me that if I planted nettles the admirals would find them. As I had only ever seen 1 Red Admiral and a sprinkling of Yellows in the previous 4 years here I had misgivings. However it has proved to be true!. This summer we have been rewarded by visits from both Red and Yellow Admirals every day.
    To introduce nettles I dug up Urtica urens from sheep paddocks which went into an old bath down the back of the section. I (carefully!) transplanted some small Urtica ferox (ongaonga) into a semi-shaded corner too.
    I spied a few varieties of buddleia (pink, dark purple and white cultivars) around the neighbourhood and stuck cuttings of those into the ground. They grew very easily and flowered in their first year.
    Monarch numbers seem ok too. We are not seeing big numbers of them, but I would say it’s about average.
    I have noticed fewer wasps this summer (SO FAR) despite it being very hot for the last 2 weeks. Maybe this accounts for the butterfly numbers?
    We found (and had destroyed) a paper-wasp nest recently and last summer realised we had a large European wasp nest in the roof cavity, which was quickly destroyed. Our local pest-control people do this for $50 which is fantastic.
    I know this is not the situation which Jacqui is finding, where wasp numbers are high in Auckland. We did have a cool, wet spring and early summer so maybe wasp numbers are taking a while to build up here.

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  • #41496


    Great stories! Awesome to hear this folks, you’ve made my day. From a garden where I haven’t seen any Admirals… yet. 🙁



    hi joanna, your from Masterton too, all the best with the admirals. i hatched about 50 of them into our butterfly house recently and they seem to be reproducing well. unlike the big cities, the admirals are quite commonly seen, but i guess there is still a large distribution oh tree nettles around this area, and not as many wasps, i haven’t seen many lately either.




    Well done Joanna – what a great success story! Your hard work has really paid off and the Admirals will be benefitting from your Admiral-friendly garden. Wonderful that where you live there actually are some butterflies!

    The North seems to be badly hit by the dearth of butterflies this year. Normally by this time in the season there would be myriads of Yellow Admirals – and a few Reds too if we’re lucky – flying around our garden (near Whangarei) and the nettle patch would be host to plenty of caterpillars, with our living space taken up by caterpillar castles full of them too. But this year, apart from one lone Y Admiral I saw a couple of months before Christmas, there have been none at all, and the nettle patch is devoid of any signs of caterpillar life. Most unusual and concerning. And other friends locally have reported the same story.

    However, today I was thrilled to see just one Y Admiral ovipositing on the nettles and feeding in the many flowers nearby. Not sure if it’s discovered the buddleia flowers yet, but the one lone Monarch which has visited us for the past few days (the first too) is certainly enjoying it, between visits to the swan plants to oviposit there. And luckily a lack of wasps around just at the moment, though I must be vigilant and take both species of caterpillars indoors very soon, just in case.

    And I’ll hopefully have sufficient caterpillars to spread them around other butterfly enthusiasts locally so they too can start the year’s round of butterfly releases.

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