Gardens are full of amazing creatures. Some are so small we have to look close to know they are there. Others are big and so beautiful we can’t miss them! Like the Monarch butterflies that flutter around gardens in summer.
If you want to see lots of butterflies in your garden try growing their favourite food. Butterflies need food for energy but the caterpillar is the really hungry stage. Caterpillars literally live to eat - and eat, and eat! The swan plant is a favourite food for monarch caterpillars.
Warning: Swan plants are poisonous. Don’t eat them unless you are a caterpillar!
If you want to plant lots of swan plants, try growing them from seed. In most places, it’s not warm enough to plant little swan plants outdoors until about November. But spring is a good time to start growing them indoors, ready to plant out later.
Look for Yates seeds with the butterfly logo. For every packet sold, a donation goes to the Moths and Butterflies of NZ Trust. Visit www.nzbutterflies.org.nz for lots more information about amazing monarchs.
Try making a viewing enclosure out of a box. Cut out side windows and cover them with netting. Hopefully the pupae will attach themselves to the roof of your enclosure. Make sure you let the butterflies escape when they emerge from their pupae. The bigger your enclosure, the more plants you can fit in it and the more butterflies you will get.
Caterpillars are eating machines! As they grow they have to change their skins a few times before they are big enough to pupate.
Monarch butterfly on Scabiosa
Swan plant with seed pods