Where are the Monarchs?

Tagged: ,

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #41202

    tadhg
    Participant

    Hi there, Ive a garden full of mature swan plants, but no caterpillars, and I’ve only seen two monarchs so far. Is it too early, or what? Where are the butterfly’s please?

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 39 total)
  • Author
    Replies
  • #42103

    Caryl
    Participant

    I enjoyed meeting you and so good to hear you have a number of chrysalises. I have to be careful too picking flowers or greens and check before I remove a flower or leaf that there’s no chrysalis there. I remember last year taking some greens with me on my way to a short stay in Turangi. I found that there was a caterpillar in J form after being in a plastic bag and in the fridge! It was okay and I transferred it to a safe place outside. Enjoy the oasis you are creating and the pleasure of monarchs fluttering around your garden. Thank you for what you are doing for them. Caryl

    #42098

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    So nice to hear, Beestings! Hope you had a great holiday too.

    #42092

    Beestings
    Participant

    I’ve just come home from a week away and started hunting for chrysalis. When I left all my cats were almost ready to go so I took the nets off some of my reserves, transfered the cats around and for good measure put some sliced pumpkin into which I had crushed some stripped stalks with their milk into at the bottom. By the time I got in my car 2 particularly large cats were munching into the pumpkin. I heard somewhere to do this only for cats in their last stage. Home now and chrysalis everywhere mostly in inconvenient places like my herb and vege plots.I will have to be very careful when gathering for meals or buy veg in. She laughs ironically having goon semi self sufficient with regards to food. Next year I will plan better for placement of the swans. Thankyou so much much Caryl for a lovely hour with you and the peaceful feeling I got from your garden. I’ve also discovered the bumble bees have made another home under my house so I can sit outside and watch the Butterflys and bees. A little oasis in the middle of dairy country.Thankyou Monarch Trust for the great resourse.

    #42079

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Excellent stuff Knight family! I know what you mean about finding them all sorts of places. There were lots of pupae hanging off the frame of my clothesline, which has a passionfruit growing behind it. They mostly emerged yesterday, and I discovered other little glints of orange behind the passionfruit leaves. So although there were 24 or more on the frame, there were lots more in a hidden location!

    Keep up the good, no, great work! Isn’t it fun?

    #42078

    Knightfamily
    Participant

    Jacqui in case you see this – I haven’t been on the forum much lately as I’ve been too busy with the butterflies! 450+ have successfully emerged so far. There’s no way we can ever get an accurate count as too many of them were hiding in parts of the garden that I thought had no chrysalises, or were hidden behind leaves of plants and I didn’t see them before. The best we’ve been able to do is to count them when we see them hanging off an empty chrysalis so we know they just emerged. Collecting empty chrysalises would work but when some of them are impossible to find or impossible to reach (I draw the line at trampling on plants to climb up to the roof of my house to retrieve one!) that method isn’t effective. So I will content myself in knowing we will at least triple last season’s entire count, we still have lots of chrysalises out there and the butterflies are now laying the next round. Wasps are out in force though, so we’ll see. If only a few survive it will give our plants time to re-grow. Like you I don’t have time to spend all day rescuing the tiny ones!

    #41870

    Knightfamily
    Participant

    Thanks Jacqui. We’ll carry on as we are for now and keep as good a tally as we can. It’s interesting to look back at last year’s numbers which were spread out over a long time and we had a lot fewer per day so it was a lot easier! I guess if we’re having a problem keeping count, then it means we’re definitely achieving what we wanted to – to release more this season than last and do our bit for the Monarchs. We’re now losing more caterpillars to problems during pupating – they hang as J’s but either never shed their skin or get it to split partially and then get stuck, and die as a result. I suspect that may be due to food quality/quantity as some of them ended up munching stems and ran out of leaves. Others we rescued and put on our reserve plants seem to have been more successful.
    I do know what you mean about time though – I have two home businesses and am struggling to maintain my interest and hours in both, as the Monarchs dominate my thoughts and distract me from what I’m supposed to be doing!

    #41849

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Hi Knight family

    I don’t know about counting them – other people may have some ideas for you. I know Gilly (one of our earliest trustees) used to keep a record of what emerged as she let them go but gave up when she got too busy with them. As we learn more “tricks” and techniques, we end up raising more monarchs, of course, and so the practicalities mean recording flies out the window with the monarchs!

    I have “lots” in my butterfly house and around the garden and it would take a fair bit of the day keeping records. Right now I don’t even have time to collect eggs and put them into safety – the eggs and little caterpillars need to fend for themselves and I’m losing quite a few. But I’m just managing to keep my sanity, a lot more important. 🙂

    #41847

    Knightfamily
    Participant

    Jacqui I thought you might like an update – of those 240 or so we expected to have emerge as butterflies, we’ve so far counted 49 big healthy specimens (39 of them today alone, so we’re in the garden a lot today, watching them emerge and trying to keep track!). We’ve lost quite a few to the hedgehog we discovered a couple of nights ago unfortunately, so I have learned now that I need to move low-hanging ones wherever possible, as I like hedgehogs too and don’t mind him eating all the snails…
    When you’re growing the volume of swan plants that we have and you have this many monarchs, it’s hard to keep track of the numbers, every time you turn around you spot another one you missed before! My daughter and I have decided that we’ll try and count the butterflies and note the number of males and females each morning, and make a note of any chrysalises that are dark enough to be expected to hatch that same day so we can check later. In the evening, we’ll go around and try and collect the empty chrysalises and keep a tally of those, see how they match up with the number of butterflies we’ve counted, and make a mental note of the ones likely to emerge the next morning so we know where to look. We figure between the two counts, that will give us a rough idea of the numbers we’ve successfully reared this season, although quite a few of the chrysalises are in positions in the garden that we cannot reach. Any suggestions on how to do this more accurately?

    #41672

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Great to hear, Knightfamily!

    #41671

    Knightfamily
    Participant

    I haven’t logged in here for a while because I’ve been busy dealing with the explosion of activity in my garden! In the past week we’ve had a lot of our caterpillars pupate – we went out there and attempted to do a count of them, which is difficult as they like to hide in all sorts of places – we have to be careful where we step and can no longer use the watering can after finding one on there! We’ve got over 240 that are either already chrysalises or ‘j’s, so they’ll be chrysalises too within a day. That’s what we could see – no doubt there are others hiding that escaped us. We also have a lot of other large caterpillars (hubby reckons at least 100, though we didn’t count those) and the plants are really being stripped bare, our reserves are now in use. I admit to intervening and moving some chrysalises that are precariously positioned, such as those on leaves on the swan plants – other caterpillars eat those leaves and we’ve lost a few chrysalises that way. I’m taking those leaves away now and taping them to some other plants so the chrysalises have a chance! I’m always amazed at how far some will travel while others are completely lazy and stay on the swan plants. We do have some small caterpillars, but I haven’t seen any eggs for a while – the ants are in force and I’m now seeing the wasps taking some of the small caterpillars. We put a wasp trap out but no joy from that yet. With the 240 or so that have pupated within a week, I think we may be in for quite a spectacular sight in a couple of weeks as they start to emerge as butterflies. Thanks to Jacqui for her advice on flowering plants as we might just be able to keep them in our garden long enough for a few good photos! I’m really happy with how we’re doing this season – last summer in total we had about 160 butterflies that I’m aware of and already we’re looking to double that. Quite possibly more because there’s definitely time for round 3 if our plants manage to bounce back quickly.

    #41670

    Beestings
    Participant

    Oh my goodness I’ve just done my twice, often more, daily check on my swans and lo and behold I have eggs and even a couple of tiny cats..They must be wintering close by now because I certainly didn’t have any the first few years I lived here. There is only so far they can smell/sense food. I am over the moon. Caryl I will still ring you when I come to Wellington as I don’t think my mother has any yet. I would love to pick your brain anyway. I am a complete amateur at this but very passionate.. I’m so glad there is somewhere to voice thoughts and get resources. Awesome

    #41657

    Caryl
    Participant

    Terrific Rachel, happy to drive to Titahi Bay – please txt me or at catlovercaryl@gmail.com
    I drive there every couple of weeks to visit the library/gallery and a friend. If you let me a couple of days before then I can make arrangements to see my friend while out there. Perhaps your mother would like some too?
    Caryl

    #41652

    Beestings
    Participant

    Hi Caryl..thats amazing that you would do this. Thankyou. I will be coming to wellngton in about a week and I now have your cell. I shall call or txt you when I am there. My mother lives in Titahi Bay and I put swan plants in for her but as at my place no babies yet. Thankyou again for your kind offer, I will certainly take you up on it. Rachel

    #41644

    Caryl
    Participant

    Beestings, I am in Wellington and have plenty of eggs and caterpillars. I would be happy to drive and meet you half way. Caryl 0278426773

    #41639

    tabbycat
    Participant

    What is the safest way to send eggs by post. Do they survive?
    Happy to try.

    #41626

    Beestings
    Participant

    CATERPILLARS OR EGGS NEEDED..NORSEWOOD DANNEVIRKE AREA..Hi..I have been an avid fan of monarchs all my life.. I have been living in this area for 8 years. I am surrounded by dairy grazing.Though I have planted a half acre of native plants/ flaxes etc..I struggle to grow enough swan plants for my babies.. Every year I buy plants from nurserys that have eggs or caterpillars on them.This seems to have worked ok until this year.. I have plants and every nursery I’ve gone to has them 2 but no eggs or caterpillars.. If anyone has any please contact me. Rachel 0272299166 cheers

    #41623

    tabbycat
    Participant

    Where are you?
    I am happy to share some of my caterpillars. They are fast stripping my trees. I am near Pukekohe. Have had a wonderful season with Monarchs laying every day. Luckily, no sign of wasps.

    #41583

    EddieCG
    Participant

    After reading Jacqui’s post, went off today and bought wasp spray and grease-bands. While applying a band to one of my mature swan plants, there clinging to a Libertia leaf below was a HUGE caterpillar! Just one. So I swiftly created it a home, and it is now sitting on my breakfast bar. It has a swan plant twig, and a hazel twig, as I think it might be looking for somewhere to pupate. Any advice? (So excited!!!). All I need is to find another, and hopefully have a breeding pair. But no sign of any more on my plants.

    #41570

    Teresa G
    Participant

    I have had many butterflies, sometimes three or four at the same time. I have one huge swan plant plus two other mature plants and many, many smaller plants in pots. I notice the butterflies seem more attracted to those plants which are flowering. I live in Browns Bay, I now have a lot of caterpilla at various stages of growth, there are a few paper wasps about but I cannot get over how many cats are thriving on the very large plant. Usually only a few survive. I did notice a couple of shield bugs on a smaller plant along with a dead cat.
    Initially I saw very few eggs but they must have been well hidden as I certainly have lots of babies now. Hope that soon that will happen for others – the wait seems interminable.

    #41568

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Eddie – are there ants on your plants? Do you see lots of wasps? These are probably the culprits!

    Hope things come right soon.

    Jacqui

    #41567

    EddieCG
    Participant

    Logged on today, frustrated at lack of babies! I have Monarch butterflies visiting my 2 mature swan plants, but no sign of babies. Leaves are mostly intact. Have only twice seen 2 butterflies at the same time, so is it a lack of males or females? Not so many paper wasps this year, no aphids on the plants. So why no babies? I am in Bayview, Auckland. Two years ago had a successful crop of about 20 butterflies, last year nothing, and so far this year, nothing.

    #41478

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    One of the emails I have had this afternoon:

    thank you for still sending you all the news about the butterflies. The reason why I have not responded to any of them is because it dosn’t seem much use anymore. The Auckland city council sprays for everything left,right and cente. They kill everything.

    Recently they even entered our bushy backyard to spray for something or the other. I noticed it and told them in no uncertain terms that they are not allowed to spray in our own garden and told them to get off straight away. Which they did. Even in Onehunga where Monarc Butterflies used to overwinter, there is not one butterfly left. One day a friend of mine who lives there by Jellicoe park told me ,they had sprayed again for something and next day hundreds of dead Monarc’s were dead on the grass under “their ” trees. And we haven’s seen ONE life one anymore there. I am so angry about that.

    Thank goodness we still see some daily in our garden. They have planted a number of Swan plants there but they regular spray the Cemetery and edges and more. So ,what the use ?
    But i do love butterflies very much !

    I hope you don’t mind me writing this to you, but i felt i had to.

    #41472

    Teresa G
    Participant

    At long last we have a lot of Monarchs in the garden, I have been moving the eggs and caterpillars to safe locations but unfortunately several died in my castle. I wonder if it got too hot, I have relocated it into a shady spot which only gets the morning sun. The plants in the castle are those raised by me and have never been sprayed etc. We have seen a few Asian wasps around my very large swan plant but we are inundated by ants on the potted plants this year, something we did not have to worry about previously. tomorrow we are going to hunt for the paper wasps nests. I have about twenty new swan plants potted up, they were growing next to my garden bins and surprisingly had lots of babies on then even though they were close to the ground and hidden away.

    #41471

    Knightfamily
    Participant

    I’m in Botany Downs, Auckland.
    We’re on our second ’round’ for the season, but the first was very late and few butterflies. We found a lot of eggs, but I think the ants got most of them and so we only had 9 butterflies emerge from round 1. All of a sudden though, we had lots of butterflies visiting us (at any one time lately there’s 4-5 chasing each other around the garden) and we now have probably a good couple of hundred or so caterpillars of various sizes out there. Once again I suspect the ants have taken a good few, but we’ve let nature take it’s course as I suspect we might run out of food with the number of caterpillars we have. Some of them are getting very close to Chrysalis stage which is great. One thing we’ve noticed is compared to last year we have few wasps in the garden. I did kill a German wasp yesterday as it munched on one of my caterpillars (could not just stand by and watch!) but I haven’t seen many Asian paper wasps. My guess is that wherever the nest was from last year someone has destroyed it since those apparently don’t travel too far. All good!
    A number of our plants are on their second season so are quite large, and I notice that the caterpillars are particularly fond of eating the flowers before they open. I have no problem with that since we have so many flowering which also is good for the butterflies as they feed on those. We have lots of seedlings coming up all over the place as well as many seed pods already so we won’t be short of seeds for next year and if they are eating the flowers then that gives the leaves longer to keep growing bigger – we’ll probably need all of them! We do have a number of plants that we’ve put under netting to stop the Monarchs laying on those (poor things try hard, and some lay on the netting instead in hope!). Those are our backup reserves for later as there’s nothing harder than watching caterpillars starving. If anyone local has plants and no caterpillars and wants to raise some though in a castle or something similar to keep them safe from wasps in your area, feel free to ask as we’re happy to share.

    #41422

    GaynorTait
    Participant

    This year we have destroyed at least 5 wasp nests. Are saddened to only have
    about 3 or4 butterflies and so few caterpillars. We have rescued about 20 from swan plants in garden, to the trees in our Castle. Last year we had released at least 100 butterflies before the tags were sent out.WE were constantly sourcing new trees last year, and this year we have got in an abundance to be prepared,–
    but the wasps are destroying the young before they have a chance. Must watch tonights programme on TV3.

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 39 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.