Every summer we look forward to a visit from our very special friends the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus). It’s like they’ve become a part of our family.
About three weeks ago I indicated in a previous post that all was not well as the developing caterpillars were being wiped out by a plague of Australian paper wasps. Yes … Australians causing trouble again, do you remember that infamous under arm ball?
I’m pleased to say that these unwelcome visitors have now left and once again our friends are munching away much to their hearts and bellies content. Just within the last few days a number have undergone the change from the caterpillar (larval) stage to the chrysalis (pupal) stage. In a few weeks they will emerge as a butterfly and fly away.
With a month of autumn already gone I’m rather surprised to see the Monarchs still about because most years they depart our garden well before now. March has been a much milder month than usual so I suspect this is the reason why. The weather is due to get much colder very soon therefore I suspect many of the smaller caterpillars will not survive.
Next summer I will endeavour to find the wasp nests and deal to them sooner so that more Monarchs can complete their full life cycle. This hasn’t happened this year with very few making it through.
Is this monarch butterfly male or female … check it out here.
It’s so nice to see them back again!
Bye for now, we will see you again next year.
Post Script: 7th April – Swan plants now have a mass of large caterpillars feeding on them. Reaching chrysalis and butterfly stages will now be dependent upon the weather. Day light saving has just ended and the nights are getting much colder.
Post Script: 21st April – Caterpillars have stripped the swan plants of all foliage and now have no food. The larger ones like these in the photo are surviving on pumpkin which we are attaching to the bare branches. The smaller ones will ultimately die due to starvation and the worsening weather.
Post Script: 2nd May – Weather is getting colder now with 8 degrees expected over night. Caterpillars have either died or are at the chrysalis stage. Don’t know if they will survive as its late in the season for them. Sadly this butterfly didn’t survive as it was deformed. Those still to emerge may suffer the same fate or they could die within the chrysalis.
“How does one become a butterfly?” she asked pensively.”You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” Trina Paulus