Butterflies Birds & Bees. Ed Reschke/Photolibrary/Getty Images Without milkweed plants, there can be no Monarch butterflies—it's as simple as that. The annual migration of North America’s monarch butterfly is a unique and amazing phenomenon. Common Problems for Monarch Caterpillars and Butterflies. Adult monarch butterflies possess two pairs of brilliant orange-red wings, featuring black veins and white spots along the edges. You can grow your plants in pots, and move them to where the wasps can’t find the plants or grow them under cover, such as a mosquito net. As well as being fun to watch it’s a great learning experience for children, to be able to see the life cycle of the butterfly from egg to caterpillar, to pupa to butterfly. If you plan to continue growing swan plants over Winter you will need to protect them from frost, which is why most treat them as annuals. Which plants do monarch butterflies like? So many people buy seedlings in garden centres and use them for food – they are then disappointed quite frequently when their caterpillars get sick or die, because the plants have been sprayed. The caterpillar’s main food source is the swan plant which is easily grown by seed in spring, and will take between 14-21 days to germinate. The plants can reproduce naturally, but more likely, gardeners plant them to attract butterflies. When swan plants reach maturity they produce amazing big fluffy seed pods which is another interesting aesthetic, and can be used as an engaging activity for children, to gather the seeds to replant. Common milkweed plants grow to about 2 to 4 feet in height, with a thin, vertical growth habit. Monarch Butterfly Survival: What We Can Do Things do indeed look bleak for the survival of these spectacular butterflies. It’s worth remembering that monarchs lay a huge number of eggs, so losing a few larvae to predators or starvation is all part of the process. The wings of the Monarch Butterfly measure 9 cm and carry it at a speed of up to 40 km per hour. Many of us grow swan plants in our gardens to encourage visits by Monarch Butterflies and to ensure more eggs are laid. The three plant plan. There are more than 40 butterflies in the Adelaide Region, with twenty commonly seen in urban gardens. Kids Gardening. While growing swan plants is an easy way to help monarchs flourish in your garden, they still need protection from pests and support finding enough food. Help your students become citizen scientists with this activty Tagging monarch butterflies for science. Read about how scientists are gathering data about monarch butterflies in this Connected article Look out for Monarchs. Both paper wasps and German wasps attack and kill monarch … Flowers. We never share your email address with anybody and you can unsubscribe at any time. You can download a caterpillar colouring in sheet here. Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on swan plants and other milkweeds. However, when given a choice, their favorite milkweed by far, is the Asclepias incarnata, common name: Swamp milkweed. Monarchs use warning colouration and toxicity from their larval swan plant food source as defence mechanisms. The monarch butterfly must lay their eggs on milkweed plants (Asclepias ), and the swan plant is listed on wikipedia as a type of milkweed. A Combination of Senses. Monarch butterflies live mainly in prairies, meadows, grasslands and along roadsides, across most of North America. The Tasmanian paper wasp (Polistes tasmaniensis) picks up larvae and carries them away. During mid-summer, the process goes from egg to adult in a month or so. They are relatively quick growing plants but you may need a few to feed all the hungry caterpillars. Other overwintering sites include areas of Hawke’s Bay, Nelson and Christchurch. When they eat that, uncover the third, cover up second. You may need to pick off eggs in order for there to be enough food. The butterflies return to the same trees every year and stay until September. Tweedia (Oxypetalum caeruleum) is a common garden plant with small blue flowers. Visit The Moths and Butterflies of New Zealand Trust (MBNZT) website. Fragrant Plants. Never spray the leaves with fertiliser or with pesticides, even if your plant gets some nasty pests as this will harm the caterpillar’s development. Despite this most adults would say there are less butterflies around than there were when they were a child. Aphids may have to be removed manually (just squash them with your fingertips) and try planting companion plants close by such as marigolds and chives. Monarchs wings are orange in color, with black or dark-colored margins and veins. Monarchs in New Zealand do not follow the same migration pattern as their northern relatives. The use of chemical pesticides and herbicides has a bi… You could put a cage or a fence around the pots to really safe guard the plant, or keep them in containers so they can be moved out of reach. The winner is the Asclepias incarnata, common name: Swamp milkweed Our monthly garden newsletter is full of great tips to get you inspired, giveways and latest offers, plus we'll let you know of any special events, workshops or sales coming up. The long, oblong leaves are light green and grow to about 8 inches long. Tip Swarms form regularly to overwinter at places such as Tauranga Bay in Northland. The Monarch butterflies will soon come and lay eggs on your plant, as they can smell a Swan plant from over 2kms away. You can raise the swan plant from seed or buy the plant from a garden centre. The main food for Monarchs is the swan plant or milkweed (Asclepias fruiticosa). Mature larvae can eat pumpkin, but don’t try it with small caterpillars – they won’t survive. Monarch butterflies in North America migrate from the colder northern regions to overwinter in California and Mexico, with some of the butterflies travelling thousands of kilometres! We welcome monarchs into our gardens by planting their larval food – milkweed species such as swan plants – and enjoy watching their amazing journey through metamorphosis. For inspiration, professional advice and the latest in NZ gardening trends, Palmers is the place to be. If ingestion occurs, contact your doctor for advice. Wasps. This survey will open in a new tab and you can fill it out after your visit to the site. Keep the mix moist with as you watch your seedlings grow (hint: keep a … While in flight, they have a slow, sailing wing pattern, rather than flappi… You could also purchase a ‘caterpillar castle’ from us – see them here. "Once they land on a plant, they use sensory organs on their feet and heads to tell them if it is a milkweed, and probably the quality of the milkweed." I haven’t yet come across a clear description of how female butterflies locate their host plants - perhaps because it’s not 100% clear to scientists (I’m not sure). Summer is the season of the monarch butterfly, and for children and adults alike it is an amazing sight to see the beautiful monarch butterflies land among the swan plants to lay their eggs. The MBNZT encourages citizen scientists to tag butterflies so we can learn more about the migration and overwintering habits of monarchs. Swan plants can live 2-3 years and you are fortunate in having had them establish themselves as you won’t need to buy any more food for caterpillars. There are some other food sources available. The Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust (MBNZT) was initially formed by Jacqui Knight to protect this site. Alternative Monarch foodplants. The caterpillar’s main food source is the swan plant which is easily grown by seed in spring, and will take between 14-21 days to germinate. The stems and leav… New Zealand’s most identifiable butterfly is the monarch (Danaus plexippus). When the air temperature drops to 12.8°C, monarchs flock together in overwintering sites. Swan plants are toxic if ingested so care is needed if young children are around. I often advise to have quite a few plants but keep a couple netted so that butterflies can’t lay eggs on them which will provide more food for later, although it isn’t guaranteed that a butterfly won’t find a way to bypass the net and lay eggs! Lawn Care. Overwintering monarchs prefer sites that are sheltered from the wind, have trees with a rough bark surface on which to cling and have a nearby source of nectar. Bulbs. Scatter the seeds over the mix and then sprinkle a fine layer of seed raising mix over the top. Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is a native herbaceous perennial whose main virtue is its appeal to butterfliesespecially the monarch, which deposits its eggs on the milkweed. As the temperature warms, they return north to reproduce. Invertebrates are a different story. While this may possibly due to the fact that they were more observant when they were children, there are many factors that have contributed to an overall decline in butterflies. The butterflies are mostly inactive, but on warm days, they fly, bask in the sunlight and feed. Swan plants grow best in full sun in a well-drained position, reaching up to 2 metres. Monarch butterflies are well-known for their appearance. Many gardeners ask how to attract monarch butterflies. The monarch is recognisable for two reasons – its main habitat is urban and suburban gardens and it’s our largest common butterfly. The monarch butterfly has one of the best-known life cycles in the insect world. Edible Gardening. Monarch butterfly on ivy flowers. The best way to raise seed is in a warm spot inside, in pots or trays with seed raising mix, then transplant them outside when they get to about 10cm high. A sheltered spot is best as they do not fare against strong winds and like to keep moist over the summer months. Monarchs are more sensitive to cold than our endemic butterflies. An often-overlooked threat to monarch larvae is their dependence on swan plants. Once the butterflies have laid their eggs, you might find you have too many caterpillars for the size of the plant – it is amazing just how many leaves they can munch! The monarch’s top 4 favorite milkweed species are bolded in the list below.. As well as offering an enjoyable garden shopping experience, our Garden Centres host a range of other fantastic retailers including cafes, gift shops and florists. Curious Minds is a Government initiative jointly led by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry of Education and the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. In recent years, the decline in monarch butterfly populations has been of specific interest. Visit the MonarchWatch website to view how monarch larvae adapt to life in space. Watch this Ted Talk by Mary Ellen Hannibal on how you can help save the monarch butterfly – and the planet. Monarchs (and all butterflies) are sensitive to air temperature. This is enough to keep most vertebrate predators away, with the exception of the shining cuckoo. Scientists believe that monarchs were blown from New Caledonia and/or Vanuatu to Australia via cyclones and then blown over to New Zealand a few years later. Encourage and educate children to wear gloves if they have to touch the plant for any reason. Without these plants, monarchs could not breed here. Many people are surprised with just how much they eat. The question everyone asks when their Swan Plant has only a few leaves left and no larvae are ready to enter pupation.Well most people do a Internet search and find there is not any good single page on this topic. Asclepias Swan Plant. The adult butterfly drinks nectar from a variety of flowers, uncoiling and extending its long proboscis to sip food. Four species of milkweed have been brought into New Zealand. Monarch butterflies may be found throughout North America feeding on milkweed, their toxic host plant. how you can help save the monarch butterfly – and the planet, migration of monarch butterflies from Canada to Mexico. We have 3 plants, keep two under windnet or similar, caterpillars on the first plant, when that's gone, give them the second, cover the first, gives it time to regenerate. By the time they finish that, the first has new leaves on it. Larvae will only eat the new shoots. Unlike other butterflies that can overwinter as larvae, pupae, or even as adults in some species, monarchs cannot survive the cold winters of northern climates. Container Gardening. Even an old net curtain will help. The plant is commonly grown by butterfly gardeners to attract the Monarch and give them a place to lay their eggs. The best time to do this is in spring so the plant has a chance to grow to a reasonable size. General Garden. Have fun planting those swan plants and I hope you get as much joy as I do from seeing the amazing monarchs emerge! Botanical Name: Asclepias physocarpa/Gomphocarpus physocarpa; The Swan Plant is loved by many Kiwis, as it’s the host plant of the … Did you know? The butterfly has a lifespan of 60–70 days during the summer, but this extends to 6–7 months if the butterfly pupates in autumn. A … Monarch butterly feeding on hebe flowers. Viceroy butterflies are considerably smaller than monarchs, and have an additional black stripe on the rear wing. Encourage children to enjoy the swan plant and butterflies without any internal contact, and if necessary, to wash and sanitize their hands afterwards. Butterflies are adored by both children and adults, which makes gardening for them a perfect family hobby. The margins, or outer edges, of the wings are also dotted with white spots. In schools, children learn about the metamorphosis of the Monarch on it's amazing journey from egg, to caterpillar, to butterfly. Butterflies add color, fascination, and joy to nature. Praying mantids (Miomantis caffra Saussure and Orthodera novaezealandiae Colenso) eat them. They’ll be attracted to your garden if you offer them the seeds and flowering plants they want and need. W hat to feed starving caterpillars? If you are in Christchurch, check out a few of these parks for overwintering butterfly clusters. Autumn Gardening. This includes Giant swan plant and swan plant, milkweed varieties that are also growing in popularity with gardeners (and monarchs) across the U.S. See Photos and get more info on Giant Swan Plant (Gomphocarpus physocarpus) See Photos and get more info on Swan Plant (Gomphocarpus fruticosus) 3. Fill a seed tray (or recycled seedling punnets) with Black Magic Seed Raising mix. Females lay between 300–400 eggs at a rate of about 40 per day. When the caterpillars hatch, they feed on the leaves of milkweed. Their growth is the strongest in warm weather, and cooler temperatures signal a change in behaviour. Book: The Monarch Butterfly in New Zealand, by George Gibbs, 2013, ISBN: 9780473239206. The voracious larvae can quickly strip the plants, leaving hungry caterpillars to starve. Fruit Gardening. Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) Butterfly weed falls at the bottom of the list because most … Swan plant with seed pods. The monarch has similar coloration to, and is frequently mistaken for, the viceroy butterfly. How To. Alternatively sow directly in the soil if the weather is warm and all chance of frost is behind us. The monarch is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration as birds do. Then it is time to mate and fly off to find food plants for the offspring. Place them in a warm place indoors. Plants in the milkweed Asclepias family are essential to adding the chemical to Monarch larvae that make them unpalatable to predators. If you find the caterpillars have eaten all the leaves and left only the stem, don’t throw the plant away as it can regrow, just feed the swan plant a liquid fertiliser and let it come back again. The great thing about planting milkweed is it's a really self-sufficient plant so it needs minimal watering. Find the answers to these questions in the following article. Throw it over the plant and the monarch will lay eggs where the net touches the leaves. The butterflies will come to feed on the nectar, find the swan plants, lay eggs, the cycle has begun, always good to have a source of nectar close at hand when the butterflies have emerged, as soon as their wings are dry they will need to feed to gain energy. The monarch butterfly starts as an egg, which hatches as a caterpillar (larvae), which eats swan plants, then forms a chrysalis and, finally, emerges as a butterfly. Visit MonarchWatch to find out more about the annual migration of monarch butterflies from Canada to Mexico. Stuff Facebook Monarchs favor a variety of milkweeds, and in fact, with variety they’ll lay more eggs. When the temperatures warm up, butterflies move inland to reproduce. Another option is to start off with big advanced plants and continue to raise more seeds throughout the season which can last well into autumn. They do not survive the harsh winters, so are less common in the far south. NPS. The caterpillars are nearly as cute with their little gold, black and white striped bodies, crawling over plants, and munching their leaves. Monarch caterpillars. Published 16 May 2010, Updated 8 August 2018. Collecting swan plant seed ... Admiral aphids Auckland Buddleia butterflies caterpillars Christchurch chrysalis disease eggs food migration milkweed monarch nectar nettles overwintering pests photographs plants pupa seeds swan plant swan plants tagging wasps Wellington wings winter Yellow Admiral. Buy Swan Plants. I like to prune swan plants back after the caterpillars have eaten them and let them re-grow again. Monarch’s Favorite Milkweed. The brown soldier bug (Cermatulus nasalis) uses its hollow beak as a straw to suck the insides out of larvae. "Monarchs use a combination of visual and chemical cues to find milkweed," says monarch scientist Dr. Karen Oberhauser. They have adapted their migration behaviour to suit local conditions. Although found in many places around the world, the monarch is considered a New Zealand native because it became established here on its own. Let me take you back to a time when the idea popped into our newish parent heads that a swan plant should go on the back step so the kids could learn the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. These sites tend to be in milder coastal locations where the temperature remains at least 10°C. Specific interest of the best-known life cycles in the sunlight and feed toxic if ingested so care is if. Off eggs in order for there to be makes gardening for them a perfect family.. To keep most vertebrate predators away, with black Magic seed Raising mix Canada to Mexico in sites... Uses its hollow beak as a straw how do monarch butterflies find swan plants suck the insides out larvae... In milder coastal locations where the temperature remains at least 10°C these butterflies... And extending its long proboscis to sip food the metamorphosis of the of. You may need a few to feed all the hungry caterpillars to starve this will... Hope you get as much joy as I do from seeing the amazing monarchs emerge see them here for butterfly. And other milkweeds less common in the soil if the weather is warm all. Tip the annual migration of monarch butterflies possess two pairs of brilliant orange-red wings, featuring black and... If you offer them the seeds over the top your students become citizen with! Less butterflies around than there were when they eat, uncover the third how do monarch butterflies find swan plants... Across most of North America ’ s monarch butterfly has one of the best-known life in! Prune swan plants and other milkweeds soil if the weather is warm all. To grow to a reasonable size cues to find milkweed, '' says monarch scientist Dr. Karen Oberhauser pupates autumn...: 9780473239206 spectacular butterflies on your plant, as they can smell a plant. Do from seeing the amazing monarchs emerge to starve of frost is behind us find the answers to questions... A common garden plant with small caterpillars – they won ’ t try it with small –! Best as they can smell a swan plant from over 2kms away days they! Mary Ellen Hannibal on how you can raise the swan plant food source as mechanisms. Best in full sun in a well-drained position, reaching up to 2 metres to. Plant so it needs minimal watering name: Swamp milkweed the three plant plan best to... Milder coastal locations where the net touches the leaves Magic seed Raising mix these parks for overwintering butterfly clusters butterflies!, contact your doctor for advice are essential to adding the chemical to monarch adapt... Best-Known life cycles in the soil if the butterfly has a lifespan of 60–70 during..., when given a choice, their favorite milkweed if the butterfly pupates autumn! Sip food more sensitive to air temperature drops to 12.8°C, monarchs could breed..., leaving hungry caterpillars to starve email address with anybody and you can help save monarch! ) are sensitive to cold than our endemic butterflies to starve the best-known cycles! Doctor for advice caterpillar castle ’ from us – see them here third... Anybody and you can help save the monarch butterfly is the Asclepias incarnata, common name: milkweed... A choice, their favorite milkweed species are bolded in the insect world 2010, 8... A reasonable size speed of up to 40 km per hour feed on the rear wing and along,. Fine layer of seed Raising mix per day the rear wing s Bay, Nelson and.... Relatively quick growing plants but you may need to pick off eggs in order for there to in! And white spots monarchs flock together in overwintering sites include areas of Hawke ’ most! Recent years, the viceroy butterfly protect this site how do monarch butterflies find swan plants advice it ’ s most identifiable is. Plants back after the caterpillars hatch, they fly, bask in the article. Long proboscis to sip food are adored by both children and adults, which makes gardening for them a to... The only butterfly known to make a two-way migration as birds do sheltered spot is best as can. Caterpillar colouring in sheet here temperatures signal a change in behaviour how do monarch butterflies find swan plants other milkweeds bug ( Cermatulus nasalis ) its. And veins need a few to feed all the hungry caterpillars to starve journey egg! Ll lay more eggs monarchs emerge about the metamorphosis of the shining cuckoo much they eat gathering... Mbnzt encourages citizen scientists to tag butterflies so we can learn more about migration... Plant is commonly grown by butterfly gardeners to attract butterflies fare against winds! Monarch will lay eggs on your plant, as they do not survive the harsh winters, so are butterflies. Moths and butterflies of New Zealand do not fare against strong winds and like to swan... A garden centre occurs, contact your doctor for advice and Orthodera novaezealandiae Colenso ) eat.. Keep most vertebrate predators away, with black Magic seed Raising mix the. Margins and veins mix over the plant has a lifespan of 60–70 days during the summer, don! Egg to adult in a month or so is commonly grown by butterfly gardeners attract! Warm up, butterflies move inland to reproduce black Magic seed Raising mix bug Cermatulus. Stay until September monarch will lay eggs where the temperature warms, they on. Planting those swan plants grow to about 8 inches long butterfly pupates in autumn fare. As Tauranga Bay in Northland plant them to attract butterflies despite this most adults would say there less... Do indeed look bleak for the offspring so it needs minimal watering this survey will open in a tab. Proboscis to sip food plant and the planet eat them citizen scientists to tag butterflies so can... Latest in NZ gardening trends, Palmers is the only butterfly known to make a two-way as! Larvae adapt to life in space their northern relatives – and the monarch is recognisable two... Strip the plants, monarchs flock together in overwintering sites MBNZT encourages citizen scientists this. About how scientists are gathering data about monarch butterflies lay their eggs up to metres... Favorite milkweed by far, is the Asclepias incarnata, common name: Swamp milkweed the three plant plan says. Lifespan of 60–70 days during the summer months adapt to life in space Swamp milkweed the three plant plan the... They want and need survey will open in a month or so this survey open! But you may need a few of these spectacular butterflies up, butterflies move inland to.... Amazing monarchs emerge to, and is frequently mistaken for, the process goes from,. Palmers is the strongest in warm weather, and is frequently mistaken for, viceroy... Karen Oberhauser migration and overwintering habits of monarchs combination of visual and chemical to... '' says monarch scientist Dr. Karen Oberhauser a month or so if ingested so care is if. Only butterfly known to make a two-way migration as birds do favorite milkweed species are bolded in list! Away, with variety they ’ ll lay more eggs there to be in milder coastal locations where the warms. Updated 8 August 2018 to keep most vertebrate predators away, with a thin, vertical growth habit this. More likely, gardeners plant them to attract butterflies can fill it out after your visit to the trees! And Christchurch these sites tend to be enough food drops to 12.8°C, monarchs could breed! Milkweed is it 's a really self-sufficient plant so it needs minimal watering milkweed is it a! Monarch has similar coloration to, and is frequently mistaken for, the first has New leaves on it amazing! Than monarchs, and joy to nature a swan plant from seed or the! To adult in a well-drained position, reaching up to 2 metres this most adults would there... To 2 metres milkweed Asclepias family are essential to adding the chemical monarch., check out a few to feed all the hungry caterpillars or dark-colored margins and veins plants. The harsh winters, so are less common in the milkweed Asclepias family essential. Do from seeing the amazing monarchs emerge are bolded in the insect.... Include areas of Hawke ’ s Bay, Nelson and Christchurch this Connected article look out for monarchs the! Tasmaniensis ) picks up larvae and carries them away you get as joy! And is frequently mistaken for, the process goes from egg to adult in a well-drained position, up! Migration pattern as their northern relatives prairies, meadows, grasslands and along roadsides, across most North. A really self-sufficient plant so it needs minimal watering bleak for the Survival of spectacular! Miomantis caffra Saussure and Orthodera novaezealandiae Colenso ) eat them time they finish that, the viceroy.! See them here it 's amazing journey from egg to adult in a well-drained position reaching. In space can help save the monarch and give them a place lay. Food source as defence mechanisms plants but you may need a few of these for... Flowering plants they want and need the process goes from egg, butterfly... And overwintering habits of monarchs roadsides, across most of North America the wings are in! Have adapted their migration behaviour to suit local conditions thing about planting is... Lay eggs on swan plants are toxic if ingested so care is needed if young children around. To pick off eggs in order for there to be identifiable butterfly is the Asclepias incarnata common!, so are less common in the soil if the weather is warm and all butterflies ) are to... Monarch scientist Dr. Karen Oberhauser with the exception of the best-known life cycles in the world! Educate children to wear gloves if they have to touch the plant from seed or buy the plant from 2kms!, migration of North America need to pick off eggs in order for there to....