VickySteele

Forum Replies Created

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 225 total)
  • Author
    Replies
  • in reply to: Our thoughts are with you, ChCh earthquake victims #26609

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Thanks for all the messages ๐Ÿ™‚ We’re fine, a bit (a lot!) on edge, but coping. We were allowed into our Mall for a few hours today to retrieve what we could and it looks like a bomb has gone off in there.

    Butterflies have not been much on my mind since September – my garden is full of nectar and I’ve had lots of visitors, but I have no hostplants here.

    I do, however, have the world’s largest nettle patch in my sister’s pristine garden at West Melton, hehe. Red and Yellow Admirals are plentiful out there, along with Common and Southern Blues. Not a bad place to spend time. Hugh and I graze our horse, Ajay, out there and enjoy the quiet of the country. The aftershocks from the 1st earthquake were far worse here in the West, but better for the 2nd earthquake.

    We’re fine … plenty have suffered so much more than us. Please keep up the good work for the Red Cross fund – there are a lot of people who will need plenty of help in the coming months.

    in reply to: Our thoughts are with you, ChCh earthquake victims #26579

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Certainly not an experience we want to go through again – the sheer violence of the event will take a long to fade in our memories.

    Truly though, ChCh residents are much heartened by the response from the rest of the country, and overseas. There are some very brave people here, searching the rubble.

    Our cute puppy is fine, although he seems to be a bit stressed at times. Possibly those feelings are wafting off Hugh and I and it unsettles him. My pet sparrow has stopped singing, although Gill said that could be the change of season.

    Weird times, scary times (again!), but we feel less alone with the rest of the country supporting us.

    in reply to: Our thoughts are with you, ChCh earthquake victims #26577

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Thanks Trisha ๐Ÿ™‚ Our house is fine, but our business is buried somewhere beneath the ceiling, broken glass, and our smashed gifts are lying in liquefaction. We’re not allowed in there because the Mall has suffered a lot of damage. Still, its only stuff, we and our staff got out ok and we have insurance.

    I had an amazing email from Gill Jackson last night – the Russell community have raised almost $45,000 for Christchurch! Thank you Russell, what an astounding effort ๐Ÿ™‚ Also thanks also to the rest of the country who are doing so much fundraising, it is very much appreciated and humbling.

    in reply to: Our thoughts are with you, ChCh earthquake victims #26575

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Who knows how many were lost … but it has been a bumper butterfly season regardless. Seeing butterflies, hearing the birds sing … all things sometimes taken for granted but now much appreciated by many of us in this suffering city.

    in reply to: Edith Sharpe, former trustee #25833

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Lovely poem Gill ๐Ÿ™‚

    I remember Edith as being a Trustee for longer than a year or two? She and Gill had already been Trustees for some time when I became one, and she only resigned a year before I ended my term of 4 years? She was Chairman for a while, but because she didn’t spend a lot of time on her computer she might not have been noticed as much as others by members.

    Edith WAS special. We became friends from the minute we met. Despite all the dramas that went on in her life, she still found time to care for others and that wonderful sense of humour never left her!

    I love that she helped people in need. I love that she loved creatures so much. I love that sparrows were her favourite birds, and I love that she loved helping Gill with her bird rescue work. I love that when I last saw her in August she was determined to fight her illness, but not stop living in the meantime. I love that she broke her special diet to share a wonderful meal with Gill and Eldon and Hugh and I ๐Ÿ™‚

    RIP dear Edith … you will be greatly missed.

    in reply to: Strange looking caterpillars #23298

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Hi Wayne – I've had these before. They're aberrant Monarch larvae. Often they have missing antennae, or one short one, or two stumpy ones. I kept pictures of mine. I had 17, and only 2 managed to pupate. The butterflies were a bit different too – they inflated their wings differently and were slightly paler and a bit weak. One I released. Happy to come and see them anyway – will give you a call.

    Cheers
    Vicky

    in reply to: Strange looking caterpillars #23290

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Hi Wayne – am curious about your caterpillars. Are these ones amongst your Monarchs? I live in Christchurch, and depending on where you lived I might be able to come and see them. I'm in Avonhead, what part of town are you?

    Cheers
    Vicky

    in reply to: Mature Swan Plants – Christchurch #23201

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Cath O'Neill is the person at Brooklands I was referring to, and where I got the plants for the Mitre 10 volunteers. She works at the New Brighton Community Gardens and plants could be picked up from there for people who don't want to drive to Brooklands. She has declined in the past to put plants and details on the forum, so I didn't want to do that for her. She's a busy girl! But yes, she does grow great plants, and guaranteed spray free.

    in reply to: Mature Swan Plants – Christchurch #23194

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Hi Lepid

    Some good choices at the moment – Terra Viva have some large grade plants (multiple stemmed) for under $10 but at last visit they were selling fast. I saw 1m and taller plants at Oderings (Yaldhurst) for $1-99, and Mitre 10 Bishopdale have big-ish plants for $3-99. Other than that, the plants I got you for the Mitre 10 Day came from a friend at Brooklands. She still has plants although I think they have caterpillars on them now. If you want her contact details, send me an email vicky@monarch.org.nz.

    Cheers, Vicky

    in reply to: Gill, drought, your Pukeko #23189

    VickySteele
    Participant

    What I need is a Gill in Christchurch! I find it unnerving caring for a wild bird, but I'm doing my best (with coaching from Gill). Lillie is caged, albeit that I dislike doing that a LOT. Waiting to see if her wing will heal. She's happy when I put her out on my deck and the other sparrows come to chat to her (or nick her food). She's still wild and doesn't like me much (yet). I love sparrows too, and they're great at getting little insects in the garden.

    Big sparrows sound lovely – can you get a dovecote or something, and see if your pair might breed? Gill might be able to comment on that. She has a wonderful story about two rescue blackbirds that paired up and had a family of their own. Neat story.

    in reply to: Fertilizer for swan plants – guaranteed #23188

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Hi Trisha – I don't know about the Ocean Organics spray, I didn't try it. Char and Al used it a lot, so Char would be best to comment on how safe it is. Personally, I'm terribly cautious about whatever I put on my hostplants and prefer not to use anything apart from whatever I concoct myself. Norm also gave me a great recipe for nettle food which works a treat. I'm lucky enough to have a sister with 10 acres and horses (two of which are mine, yay, skiting now, but I love horses), so I have lots of material to make my own fertiliser.

    When I had sprayed swan plants once, the company that tested them said to me that they would have trouble diagnosing if an organic product had been the culprit because it tends to bond with the plant and makes it very hard to identify. I also spoke to a spray expert, and the combination of what he said, and what the laboratory said, made me wary. Perhaps I'm overly cautious, but I've had experiences that I really don't want to go through again.

    Cheers, Vicky

    in reply to: Disappearing Chrysalis?? #23186

    VickySteele
    Participant

    That's quite right Olivia – you'd see evidence if it had fallen, and the cremaster wouldn't have been left behind. 80cm is out of the reach of a hedgehog, unless it had a wee ladder. Interestingly though, a friend of mine caught two hedgehogs, working in tandem. One would lean on the swan plant and bend it over while the other one ate the caterpillars. I don't know what else it could be, unless someone has seen something taking a chrysalis and can chip in. How mysterious, and how sad for you to lose your special one ๐Ÿ™

    in reply to: Fertilizer for swan plants – guaranteed #23169

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Can't find the article now, but I did read a few years ago on a website where people had used Rootblast on their swan plants (in America) and ended up with deformed butterflies. Something to do with the hormones in it – whatever goes through the plant ends up in the caterpillars. Perhaps since then the formula has been changed. Hopefully it has and we will look forward to hearing that your butterflies emerge in perfect condition.

    in reply to: Ramblings on terrible season for Monarchs #23159

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Hi Morfydd. Singular is chrysalis or pupa, plural is chrysalides (or chrysalises) or pupae.

    Where do you live? I usually move pupae that are on swan plant leaves so the other caterpillars don't eat the leaf. Mine usually pupate in my butterfly house, so are protected. I've lost them before to hedgehogs and the praying mantis when they've been outside. And it depends on the weather too. Excessive heat, or excessive cold can cause problems.

    in reply to: Gill, drought, your Pukeko #23158

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Never heard of Malay doves before – just googled them, lovely looking birds. Lucky you Trisha ๐Ÿ™‚

    That's quite a selection Gill! Last time I was at your place you had one Thrush. Is Pav your favourite? Just as well Eldon likes to go fishing, hehe.

    Got a little wild one of my own now, Lillie the (so far) flightless sparrow. She's got a dislocated wing. Express delivery to Russell, perhaps?

    Nice thing about creating a garden for butterflies is that there's a lot of benefit for other wildlife as well. Oh, I suppose the bread, seed, corn, apples, fatballs and pasta I put out might be a small attraction too ….

    in reply to: Gill, drought, your Pukeko #23144

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Just Pav, Gill? You're not going to share any info on the rest of your amazing menagerie?

    Swan plants are a great price, in most garden centres, in Christchurch at the moment. $1-99 for plants over 1m tall. Just a shame these sort of prices aren't around at the beginning of spring.

    in reply to: Disappearing Chrysalis?? #23142

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Hi Olivia

    I had a few low-to-the-ground pupae go missing one year, with just the cremaster left attached, and the culprit turned out to be a hedgehog. I've never had any of mine taken by birds. If your chrysalis had fallen, the cremaster wouldn't have been left behind. How high off the ground was the chrysalis? It would seem unlikely it was a hedgehog for you though, if it went missing during the day.

    in reply to: Buddleja salvifolia 'Silver Anniversary' #23100

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Hi Char – there wasn't much flowering stuff near it at that time of year. Some viburnum tinus, rosemary, dianthus and a few other early things. I was hoping the white one would be a hit. I do have a mauve winter flowering one that was really popular, and it was in a worse spot (sun wise). I thought the Silvery Anniversary might have needed feeding, but there's a caryopteris x cland. next to it that looks amazing, plus all my wildflowers that came up in spring and summer are in the same spot and are great.

    in reply to: Buddleja salvifolia 'Silver Anniversary' #23097

    VickySteele
    Participant

    I'd be interested to hear how other people find there ones. Mine did flower in late winter, and it wasn't particularly popular. It certainly grows slower than my other varieties. I'm a bit disappointed in it on the whole, but think I'll move it to see if that makes a difference.

    in reply to: Fallen Chrysalis #22689

    VickySteele
    Participant

    If you have trouble getting the cotton on Claire, I sometimes put a wee piece of double-sided tape on the end of the cremaster, then wrap a little bit of cotton wool round that. Then its really easy to get the cotton on and hang them up (sort of replicates the silk). I like to hang mine when they're still wriggling, so they don't get any flat spots. This works really well with Admirals too – the cotton often slides off the end of their cremaster.

    Where are you from Claire?

    in reply to: Pupae Identification #22682

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Be careful Johnny – those certainly look like cabbage white pupae to me, and they sure look parasitised. Pteromalus puparum is a very small wasp and can get through even fine netting. I think a jar, like Norm suggested, would be a better idea. You really don't want those little horrors getting loose and mating. And if you dispose of them in the freezer, leave them there for quite some time. They can come back to life even after 48 hours of freezing.

    in reply to: Sprayed Swanplants #22559

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Hmmm, thought it would be Zealandia. Be careful – contact sprays are usually called 1, or 3 day sprays. This refers to the withholding period for humans, so its longer for a caterpillar. If you're going to keep the plants, wash them a LOT.

    Your caterpillars may be ok Abbey. Contact sprays kill on contact, so caterpillars usually get off the plants. They don't have to eat to get sick, but if they get off quickly they can often be ok. Hope so!

    in reply to: Sprayed Swanplants #22547

    VickySteele
    Participant

    It depends on what spray was used as to how long it will be until the plants are ok. A surface spray might be gone in less than a week if the plant is washed daily, but something systemic (inside the plant) will make the plant deadly for maybe 8 weeks.

    A friend of mine got sprayed plants from Mitre 10 Mega (ChCh) last year. One particular supplier (nationwide) was responsible. They been spoken to about it, so disappointing if it is them again.

    You should get your money back. Plants seem to fall into a bit of a grey area when it comes to guarantees, unfortunately. At least they admitted it to you – that's one of the biggest battles. Now they should do the decent thing. I, for one, wouldn't want to keep those plants.

    in reply to: Excited about Admirals. #22441

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Good work Happy – nice to know the butterflies have found your nettles.

    Admiral caterpillars are best seen at night. They hide in their leaf tents (mostly) during the day. I find it uncommon to see them out and about in daylight.

    For sure, they are amazing at wandering. I keep mine corralled but still get a few escapees.

    Easiest to find the pupae if you have them contained, but wise to try and keep the parasitic wasps out, otherwise you can create a deathtrap for them. The more caterpillars you have, the more likely you are to get wasps (e.g Pteromalus puparum). I've seen them hunting through nettle patches everywhere lately.

    Monarch, or Admiral, caterpillars that I have inside, away from a lot of natural light, are very dark in colouring. I find the light has more bearing on their colour, than heat. My inside ones are kept warm, and get large. I rescued some Monarchs from a tunnel house once, in 40 degrees (humid though). They were fine, although coloured just like your ones. Some were only 3rd and 4th instars, and they changed to a more normal colouration after their next moult.

    Good luck with your Admirals. They're worth the effort.

    in reply to: swan plants in christchurch #22185

    VickySteele
    Participant

    The guy Lawrence is talking about is the same guy who sells to Mitre 10. So highly recommended plants. Bevan is in Queenspark Drive – you can buy from his gate. Otherwise most Mitre 10’s are still stocking his plants, as are Terra Viva.

    Cath is great – good plants, overwintered from last year (same as your ones Lepid).

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 225 total)