Elizabeth

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  • in reply to: Admirals in Northland #57798

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    I live on Mt Tiger and for nearly 20years now have been on “butterfly duty” during the season, taking nettles/swan plants/ragwort indoors to rear caterpillars in safety, then releasing butterflies back outside. I did try native nettles, but they didn’t like it in the garden or were eaten by slugs, so have stuck with the European nettles that you too have in your garden. Several years ago we used to see quite a few Red Admirals around, as well as the Yellows. Also reared a small number and released them too. But for the last two or three years, hardly any Reds sighted at all, and none reared. I take nettles with tiny, just-hatched caterpillars indoors, so they can be Reds or Yellows – I have no way of knowing till they pupate. But always many, many more Yellows than Reds emerged as butterflies.

    So I don’t know the reason for the decline in Reds here at Mt Tiger, which is very disappointing. I had hoped I might help to boost the numbers, but sadly not. We have one acre of “garden” – mixed flowers, shrubs, veg, trees including both natives and orchard, and grassy areas including rough areas. We have neighbours’ paddock to one side of us and native bush on the other sides, so Red Admirals should be happy with bush being nearby, I’d have thought. I have read that Reds like the native tree nettle (urtica ferox), so you might like to try that to attract them – ours was eaten by slugs when quite small, and I didn’t feel brave enough to try again! Especially as at that point they seemed to be quite happy laying eggs on European nettles.

    I’d be interested to know if you know how many Yellow Admirals in your garden survive the wasps etc and make it through to pupae and beyond. I started bringing mine inside as I could see the survival rate outside wasn’t great. Maybe in the town there are less predators? We have a very insect-rich property, which is great in some ways of course.

    The Ragwort I bring indoors is to help along the Magpie moth caterpillars, which we see several of during the Summer. We also regularly see Common Coppers – saw one on flowers in the garden last week in fact, quite early for them. And for the last three Summers we’ve had one or two Painted Lady butterflies (vanessa kershawi)on Buddleia. But of course they come over from Australia and I don’t think breed here. And plenty of Common Blue – and Monarchs too.

    I think that’s about all I can think of about the butterflies etc at Mt Tiger. If you have any further questions I’d be happy to try to answer them, not that I’m in any way an expert. elizamber@hotmail.com

    in reply to: Blue Moon butterfly sighted #43817

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    I do take your point, Terry, about people being upset about killing only beautiful things, such as butterflies. But I don’t eat meat, use sprays, insecticides etc. or kill spiders and other insects. However I do admit to trapping – with great regret – rats and possums and destroying wasps nests, due to the problems they have caused in our house and garden. I don’t do this gladly and return the bodies to the earth to become compost. I find killing these creatures quite upsetting too. Maybe you think this is being pathetic and hypocritical, but I’ve had to struggle long and hard about this problem and this is the best I can do at the moment.

    I was also not trying to attack Clinton, but was having difficulty myself with his way of viewing Nature. I was just rather shocked, thinking – naively maybe – that people no longer collected butterflies – or birds eggs for that matter. So I now know that they do, and also accept that we are all different in our views on such things.

    in reply to: Blue Moon butterfly sighted #43808

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    I am with Caz in this matter, feeling very upset and sickened by what you are doing with the butterflies. It is not “nature working” – quite the opposite. It is man intervening with Nature as if it is our right to take life for no other reason than to win a “trophy”.

    in reply to: Blue Moon butterfly sighted #43802

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    If you aren’t breeding them, Clinton, I don’t quite understand why you are catching them.


    Elizabeth
    Participant

    I recently had the same problem when mine and all my friends’ swanplants were stripped too. So I had to take my last batches of Monarch caterpillars into Whangarei and deposit them in a couple of spots on some still-leafy plants there.

    The places I left them were: some tall plants at the bottom of Whareora Rd (off Mill Rd) on the R before you get to Reeds Bush. The plants are on the side of the footpath next to the bottom fenceline of a property. The other place friends told me about and is a row of nice bushy swan plants next to a fence in the carpark area of a block of flats in Deveron St. You can see them easily from the road if you drive slowly. On the L of Deveron St if you go from Bank St (just past the Anglican Church). Those plants were loaded with ladybirds and their larvae which was great to see.

    My only qualms about leaving the caterpillars was in case they didn’t survive predators – but I had no choice, sadly. At least they had some food, and so you might like to try these two spots too – or take some foliage from the plants to continue raising them at home yourself, as you only have two to feed.

    Good luck!

    in reply to: Red Admirals and sliced apple #42541

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    Years ago, back in rural Wales, I well remember myriads of butterflies being attracted to our orchard in late Summer/early Autumn for the ripe fruit. (Along with wasps, of course.) It was particularly the overripe and rotting pears and plums that they gorged on (but apples too)- sometimes the ground seemed to be literally heaving with butterflies – Red Admirals, Peacocks, Tortoiseshells and Commas being the most frequent guests at the banquet. That would have been 35 – 40 years ago, and maybe things have sadly changed since then, with the worrying dearth of butterflies.

    in reply to: Best cure for aphids #42210

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    How lovely, having all those ladybirds dealing with the aphids for you! I’ve found a different sort of ladybird on my swan plants this year – the Mealybug Ladybird from Australia (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri), which seems to relish the yellow aphids too. I’m sending a photo of one making a meal of an aphid on the plants this morning. I need to move some onto the woolly aphids in our orchard! Here is a link to the page with photos and description of the adult and the larva:

    http://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_ladybirds/MealybugLadybird.htm

    And, thinking about squishing the aphids, please do look first to ensure there aren’t any friendly larvae of either Ladybirds or Lacewings there, having an aphid meal!

    in reply to: Caterpillar Surplus, Whangarei #41552

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    I’ve had one reply from a neighbour who has lots of swan plants but no caterpillars. He would like some please. He says he’ll be in town tomorrow morning, if that’s where they are. Perhaps the best is if you email me and I can give you his details: elizamber@hotmail.com

    in reply to: Caterpillar Surplus, Whangarei #41542

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    Have you thought of taking them to the Quarry Gardens where there should be lots of swan plants? That’s my only suggestion, as schools( which often want them to raise butterflies with the kids) aren’t back yet. I’ll ask other people in Whangarei, who might be interested too.

    in reply to: Nettles + Buddleia = Admirals! #41490

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    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.

    in reply to: Flies eating caterpillar eggs? #41351

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    Maybe the flies are what’s known as Robber or Assassin flies (family Asilidae) which I have seen attacking admiral caterpillars on my nettle patch. They paralyse them (and other insects) and suck the insides out of them. I don’t know if they eat eggs too, but it’s possible. There are about 20 species in NZ, six of them threatened species. If you google the Common Robber Fly (Neoitamus melanopogon), you might find a photo of one to compare with your flies. If they are robber flies, then it wouldn’t be advisable to put the caterpillars back outside at all, as they’d be delicious fodder for the flies!

    in reply to: Finding New Zealand Butterflies #40805

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    Hi Doug,

    It’s a pity you’ll be in Northland so early in the butterfly season, as after Christmas there will be an abundance of yellow admirals in the garden and a good chance of seeing a red too – as well as monarchs. I do have nettles in the garden for the admirals, and even though I do help them out during the season by taking the caterpillars indoors and releasing the butterflies outside afterwards, I don’t keep any in butterfly houses from season to season that you could see. So far this season I have only caught sight of one yellow admiral in the garden, and no caterpillars that I can see so far on the nettle patches.
    I live half an hour from Whangarei, near Parua Bay, so if you were in the area you are welcome to phone to see if the butterfly situation has improved any. My email is elizamber at hotmail dot com. (Edited so that bots hopefully don’t collect it and spam you, Elizabeth.)
    Of course you could contact a Junior school in the area – such as Parua Bay school – to see if they have any monarchs. Quite a few of these small schools do breed them for conservation education for the children. You could strike lucky, but it’s a bit hit and miss.
    Good luck anyway in your butterfly search!

    in reply to: Lepidoptera and adaptation #40512

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    What about the North Island Lichen moth, Jacqui? The moth is camouflaged when resting on lichen-covered tree bark. And the caterpillar disguises itself in two ways: looking like a dead twig; curled up on a leaf, looking like a bird dropping. (I have seen one actually doing this last way, in the garden!)

    in reply to: Would love some Buddleia cuttings in Kaitaia #37919

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    Hi there – I’m near Whangarei, and if by any chance you’re going to be in this area you are welcome to some cuttings of mine – Charlotte in Auckland was generous to give me cuttings of her Buddleias a while back. If I’m planning on being up your way I’ll let you know, but not at the moment I’m afraid.
    elizamber@hotmail.com

    in reply to: Stinging nettle question #33374

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    It’s also good to be aware of possible ant nests in the soil in the pot if it has been outside.  I learnt by sad experience about this when I put a pot of new nettles in the butterfly castle and wondered why the hanging pupae were being eaten, until I found lots of ants scurrying around and tracked them down to under the pot where they were going to and fro.  I had to empty the pot, clean the roots and repot with clean compost, and not keep the spare pots of nettles outdoors.  Which is quite a hassle, but necessary here anyway.


    Elizabeth
    Participant

    Hello Mary – I’ve only just seen your posting. I’m at Mt Tiger but with only nettles – however there are lots of swan plants at the Quarry Gardens – they have spread all over there. Hopefully by now your caterpillars are taken care of. But it’s worth remembering the Quarry Gardens, off Western Hills Drive, for future possible use.

    Elizabeth

    in reply to: Shining Cuckoo eating Monarch caterpillars #29173

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    Beautiful photos of the shining cuckoo with the monarch caterpillar, Anna. Amazing to have caught it on camera. Aren’t your monarch caterpillars got at by insects? They must be outdoors for the cuckoo to be there. There are so many wasps, green bugs etc here that I don’t think they’d last very long in our garden!

    in reply to: Admiral caterpillars #29060

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    Hi Thomas – I’ve only just seen your forum posting. I live in Northland too – near Whangarei – and have been saving admirals for several years now after they appeared on my European nettle patch (orginally planted for nettle tea!). I’ve got way too many and can’t save them all I’m afraid on my two nettle patches (one European and the other new this season, a native,u.incisa). If you want to drive over here you are most welcome to come and get some caterpillars – they are probably yellows, but we do occasionally get reds too. Last year I released over 1400 yellows, but only 16 reds so that gives you some idea of the scarcity of reds hereabouts.
    I live in Mt Tiger area, about 20 mins drive from Whangarei, inland from Parua Bay. Or maybe we could meet in Whangarei to hand over if it’s too far out here. elizamber@hotmail.com
    Elizabeth

    in reply to: New pages on website #28438

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    Some really beautiful photos again in this year’s calendar – great team work by Norm, Jacqui and Robyn. I did notice, though, that on the back cover the N Island lichen moth is labelled South Island lichen moth………. Hopefully it won’t be too important as it’s labelled correctly on the big picture.

    in reply to: Eureka…found new seasons Admiral caterpillars! #28263

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    Anna – there have been tiny admiral caterpillars on our nettle patch throughout the winter – the over-winterers which grow very slowly until the approach of Spring and warmer weather. I had promised a few to the local health shop owners who have been establishing their own nettle patch from roots I gave them a while back. By the time I got around to doing that, most had disappeared into the depths of the patch – now rather weedy with invading buttercup, trefoil and kikuyu and difficult to search through. However I did find three which had become quite large, and since handing them over, they have all pupated – indoors – and I await news of their emergence.

    I now need to get back to the nettles and clean out some of the weedy invaders so I can see where the rest of the caterpillars got to, and whether there are new tiny ones again, as it seems to be getting near the time to bring them indoors again – there are paper wasps around, and also one or two green bugs which always survive our northern winters (Whangarei area), unfortunately.

    Haven’t seen any admiral butterflies as yet, but the odd monarch floating by, and a cabbage white too. But it won’t be long I feel……..
    …..have just dashed out to the patch and had a very quick search, discovering one very small admiral caterpillar – so hopefully there should be more. When I’ve finished this painting I’m working on I’ll then be free to investigate further and do what’s necessary in rescuing and weeding. Seems hardly any time since last Summer’s caterpillar influx! (Well, I suppose it’s not long since the last admiral was released in July!)

    in reply to: Lucky Draws for membership renewal #28135

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    293

    in reply to: Plant identification please? Nectar source #27319

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    I, too, had thought of using ivy as a nectar source for insects, particularly butterflies, knowing that it’s a very important source at this sometimes difficult time of the year in the UK. But I soon discovered how invasive it is, and am still trying to irradicate it after quite some time. The bank where I planted it still has a little on it, but peppermint geranium seems to be winning the battle!

    Incidentally, my cousin in the UK who works as a gardener in a huge garden to a “big house”, informs me that with the warmer temperatures ivy is becoming an invasive problem there too, and she’s now having to try to rip it all out. A shame, as its flowers are very useful after many things have finished.

    in reply to: What moth is this? #27254

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    Thanks, Robert and Norm, for clarifying this for me. But maybe I shouldn’t be giving them house room along with the admirals if they’re such pests!

    in reply to: What do adult Magpie Moths eat? #27068

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    I can empathise with you, Anna – when I first started releasing admirals I often did so from our deck, and saw fantails chasing them and catching them almost immediately. Now, I either release them from the other side of the house (which I do anyway if we’re having strong Nor’Easterlies), or have a quick look first to see if there are any fantails around. It’s a dog eat dog – or bird eat butterfly – world out there!

    in reply to: Buddleia from cuttings. #26960

    Elizabeth
    Participant

    Hi Jacqui
    Could it be Buddleia Alternifolia, which I well remember from the UK – a beautiful ornamental tree with scented mauve flowers arranged in “blobs” down the branches, as I remember. Truly lovely when planted as a specimen tree at the edge of water, with iris at its feet! Very graceful.

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 41 total)