Setting up a Butterfly House

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  • #61391


    Morena, I am a primary teacher on a 6 month science leadership programme through the Royal Society. My host organisation is Plant and Food Riwaka.
    We are planning to re-purpose a dis-used insect house here at Plant and Food to raise native and endemic butterflies in collaboration with my school, Ngatimoti Primary, Project Janszoon/DOC and local iwi. We are looking for advice on endemic and native breeds to start with, (e.g. Monarchs and Tussock Butterflies – planning to do an inventory of local varieties first with the students) but hope to eventually breed more endangered breeds for re-lease in the future, (E.g. Forest Ringlet) also on setting up plants inside the house, (pots? in the ground? Hanging?) how people have handled irrigating the plants and providing drinking water or sugar water feeders to the butterflies. Just any tips please!

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  • #61398


    The plan is here for further comment:

    …for dividing up the insect house. Gravel goes in next week for the base course, (as it can flood) and wood has been ordered for framing up the sections inside.

    Butterfly house design



    Hi Dragon21, your facility is well situated to source tussock ringlets, red admirals, yellow admirals, and other native butterflies. Be aware that a DOC permit is required to collect Forest ringlets unless you are lucky enough to find any outside of conservation areas, and any that may be bred from these are not permitted by MPI to be released back into the wild. The butterfly house needs an overhead irrigation system to provide regular watering for the hostplants such as Chionochloa, Urtica and other species which grow better in the ground rather than pots. Hanging baskets are notorious for drying out unless regularly watered. Nectar plants in pots can be rotated from a nursery area and into the house as they come into flower, and after flowering be dead headed, fertilized and put back into the nursery area to regenerate.

    Predators of many types are a threat to the stock, as are pathogens, both need to be watched for constantly. A good air flow through the house is necessary, and fine mesh lining is required to prevent predators from entering. At the Te Puna Quarry park butterfly house we have dispensed with artificial nectar as it ferments quickly in the summer, and unless cleaned regularly the dishes also develop mould, so a good supply of both potted and in-ground flower plants handle the requirements. Artificial nectar if fine if the facility is monitored on a daily basis.
    Hope this answers some of your questions, happy to answer any others.



    Hi There have you seen this document?

    Just adapt it to New Zealand’s weather conditions as I live in the UK where its a lot colder for longer in the winter.

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