These Aussie’s Are Just Mean And Ugly!

Australian Paper Wasp

Every spring and summer one of the most welcomed visitors to our garden is the Monarch butterfly. This past summer was no exception but all was not well for them in our normally tranquil paradise.

After some investigation on the net I discover the name of the culprits who were creating chaos amongst our much admired Monarchs.

Australian paper wasp is the name they go by and I can vouch that they have a real mean streak. The photo above was taken using a slow shutter speed with the camera on a tripod as it was early evening and the light was fading.

After an hour of shooting I had about 60 to 70 shots. Isn’t digital photography wonderful.

The wasps appeared ready for sleep but became agitated whenever I got near. The camera lens was no more than 8 inches away from their nest. Like a group of snarling tigers preparing to attack their appearance gave me a sense of impending “danger”.

I’ve never been stung by one of these wasps but I imagine it would be a painful experience.

Several days later with a torch and under the cover of darkness I terminated our unwanted Australian squatters and their home. I don’t like to destroy anything but felt that these guys warranted an exception.

I first noticed these wasps several years ago when they started to attack and kill the Monarch caterpillars. Prior to this we’ve always had a multitude of caterpillars. In fact most years I’ve had to feed them on pumpkin as they stripped all the swan plants bare.

This summer due to these wasps I’m aware of only three caterpillars surviving to the chrysalis and adult butterfly stage. One of those only escaped death due to me bringing it indoors.

Not sure what I will do next summer to combat these pests as there seems to be so many of them.

As we enjoy watching (and photographing) the Monarchs any advice or suggestions would be most welcome.

Monarch Caterpillar

Favourite Quotes:
Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there.Thomas Fuller (1732)

2 Responses

  1. Jacqui Knight
    Jacqui Knight |

    Wasps eating caterpillars: just hang in there, the wasps will change their diet from protein to nectar very soon. They have been feeding their young, BUT around about now the young wasps are old enough to fend for themselves, and all will start searching for sources of nectar.

    I’m writing this in March, and the generation of Monarchs which emerge around about now will go into diapause and be the generation which overwinters, living about 6-9 months, until the spring when they will mate and the females will lay eggs, our next season’s caterpillars. So we need to do all we can to help them.

    Hope that’s helpful!

    Jacqui Knight
    Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust

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