18 Jan 2018

The hungry monarch caterpillars

From Summer Times, 9:20 am on 18 January 2018

Monarch butterfly caterpillars are struggling to find a feed. Around the country gardening centres and plant shops have sold out of swan plants as people rush to replace the plants which are being devoured by the hungry caterpillars.

It's led to heart break for some as they watch the critters fail to properly form into a chrysalis or perish before reaching that stage.

She says it’s been a long, wet winter in most parts of the country and a lot of the swan plants that overwintered died as slugs and snails proliferated.

Monarch caterpillars

Monarch caterpillars Photo: © jacqui-nz

"So going into the spring we had fewer swan plants for monarchs to lay their eggs on."

She says in some areas wasp (a predator of caterpillars) populations were down.

"There are more monarchs around because the wasps got knocked back over the winter, their population dropped right back which means there are more monarchs becoming butterflies."

They are far from endangered however, a female monarch can lay over 1000 eggs, she says.

Monarch butterfly in Robin Simenauer's garden

Monarch butterfly in Robin Simenauer's garden Photo: supplied

The above image was captured in the Ngaio, Wellington garden of Robin Simenauer.

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