4/09/2016

caterpillars in autumn

I have enjoyed seeing all manner of birds in the garden: to name a few, pukekos, plovers, starlings, magpies, swallows, the occasional kingfisher or two and the latest being a wild pheasant. 

I have, however, noticed the distinct absence of butterflies. In Hawera, just 20 minutes away, we have seen trees covered with them in the park and bushes covered with them at a public walkway. But there has been only the occasional single monarch fluttering past the house.

When I mentioned this to Hubby in early spring, he suggested we plant a 'butterfly garden' with lots of hebes, as the walkway signs suggested. I doubted his wisdom, but he sarcastically quipped, 'If you plant them, they will come' and commenced digging. 

We considered planting swan plants, but the ones we planted in Stratford were chewed to their death in a matter of weeks by the lovely little caterpillars. So we concluded that we would need to cover them the first  year in order for them to be hearty enough for caterpillars and decided against them.

All spring and summer the hebes bloomed but there was no increase in  butterfly activity even though the bees loved them :)

Then, in mid-summer, Missy showed up with two swan plants for my garden and I decided to plant them and wait to see what happens. I waited. And waited. It grew some lovely green leaves and flowered beautifully. And one day, I noticed that one single monarch started to drift by almost daily. Some landed on the swan plants and some didn't.  Then, even though it was already getting into the autumn months, much to my surprise, I noticed one fat caterpillar!

As of today, there were 10 caterpillars of various sizes and the swan plants don't seem to be any worse for wear!


I am delighted beyond belief with the success of  attracting the beautiful butterflies! Of course, I plan to get more swan plants next summer and see if we can change the courses of monarchs in Taranaki!

13 comments:

Mountain Mama said...

How lovely - I, too, try to attract butterflies, bees, and other wonderful critters to my garden by what I plant. will be planting a butterfly bush in spring and hope that it will live up to it's name! Thanks for visiting my blog - I love to find new blog friends out there, especially clear across the world!

Nancy Chan said...

Very soon your garden will turn into a beautiful butterfly garden. Some of my smaller plants have been chewed to death by the fat caterpillars in just one day!

Hetty said...

Monarch! I have seen these butterflies in the Hortus in amsterdam. They were impresive. How wonderful to have these in your garden. I have no idea what a swan tree is, but plant more of them. Groetjes Hetty

Claudias Fotoblog said...

Wonderful pics !

Greetings from good old Germany^^
Claudia

Magdalena said...

That looks interesting, wonderful photos.It's so nice to hear from you.
Magdalena

Marionette Hermann said...

Oh how beautyfull these caterpillars are. What ist swanflower in latin? An when the first monarch is flying you will surely take a lot of pictures of him too?! Have a nice Week.

Amy Johnson said...

Oh my! Your going to have so many beautiful butterflies in your yard soon!

Jim said...

Wonderful

Wandering Wren said...

How exciting to have all your hard work pay off and be looking forward to lots of beautiful butterflies in your garden... even if you have to admit your husband was right!! Mind you, you know since he picked me as a winner in your giveaway, I think he has impeccable talents for picking winners and winning ideas!
Wren x

Sandra said...

these are beautiful photos of these caterpillars... and will be even prettier soon.

Pippa Koenig said...

caterpillars....what pictures! P.

Anita Johnson said...

How did I miss this....yippee!

Liz said...

Great captures!