Thursday, February 24, 2011

The New Freds

The old Fred is still in his chrysalis, and is obviously not going to hatch, so that was sad after all the nurturing. The Fred caterpillars on the big swan plants are getting eaten by the wasps who are feeding their young. So I decided I needed to intervene if I was to see some butterflies hatch anytime soon. ( I should say that our garden is still absolutely full of Monarch butterflies so they are obviously faring better elsewhere.)

My intervention was to go to the garden centre and buy three of the biggest swan plants I could find, put them in a huge pot, let some butterflies lay their eggs then put them under cover to protect them as best I could.

This cunning plan is working to a certain extent. I'm using my seedling greenhouse as the cover and it's actually a little too narrow for the pot so it's not quite touching the ground. I started off with 10 caterpillars that hatched. I now seem to have only 6, but those 6 are big and strong looking  ~ in fact one of them is pretty much the size of my pinky finger so I have high hopes for him.
But it just seems every morning when I get up to check on them I have one less caterpillar so something must be getting in.

This is my Monarch Nursery!

And a few of the Freds

 This is the huge one

As they get bigger they can certainly strip a branch. The huge one has completely eaten the top 10 leaves off one of the branches since last night!
I think I'll have enough food here for them, but if not I can take branches off the outside ones as they are still huge.

I also wanted to say thank you to everyone who commented yesterday. I think the whole of New Zealand is just very sad right now and it means a lot to know people are thinking of everyone down  in Christchurch.


  1. shall we start to call you the monarch lady arf arf arf

  2. I think what you are doing is great! Monarch caterpillars eat milkweed (asclepias) too. If you have some growing in a wild field, you might put that in, as well.

    I hope you can find whatever is eating these and keep it out.

  3. Hi Sheryl, the swan plant is just another name for milkweed so I've pretty much bought out the garden centre! I am determined to get at least one butterfly!

  4. You need an old net curtain around the gaps or something. Those wasps are pretty sneaky. I discovered a paper wasp nest IN my swan plant, hence no caterpillers this year. You can always have a few branches off mine if you need extra for the Freds.

  5. thanks Charlotte! Do you think the pesky wasps will eat even the huge ones?

    net here I come!

  6. What a great set up - they are ogoing to love it!

  7. Awwwwww you are so sweet Laura and they are so terrific!!

    Can't wait to see them as butterflies! I wonder if they will hang around and lay you their eggs in gratitude...or if they can imprint and flutter about after you! :)

  8. Yes, I would put a big piece of mosquito netting over your green house Laura, you can buy it by the metre..........
    We have so many of those butterflies still here in our garden, I have not known a year since living here, that we have had so many every day...they are just beautiful...I think maybe our yard is so cool and shady that they come and seek shelter here...

  9. How cool! Maybe they are crawling out (as opposed to something getting in). Could you wrap something like cheescloth or even nylons/pantyhose around the bottom?
    Still, I love the look of the whole set-up and how exciting to observe!
    New to your blog and really enjoying it!

    (p.s. I am glad you changed your font. The other was nice to look at but hard to read for us old folk with worn-out eyes. This one is good looking and easy to read!).


I love it when you leave me comments, it lets me know there are folk out there reading my ramblings! Thank you, I appreciate them loads and loads
Laura x