I had my first successful chrysalis of the season this week!! I’m so far behind this year. I had heaps of caterpillars, but I lost many within 24hrs due to my next door neighbour who booked in the spider proofing man round to her house!! Chemicals were sprayed a few metres from all of my swan plants in one of the windiest North West Canterbury spring days!!
Luckily I witnessed the truck driving past my house otherwise I would have been wondering what I did wrong and why they got sick. Just shows you, no matter how many plants you grow spray free from seed and take care of your caterpillars, outside influences kill beyond our control. Some people would have been quick to call their garden centre and blame their new purchase plants had been sprayed prior that could have killed their caterpillars. Washing my plants everyday didn’t remove the poisonous chemicals. It took me over two weeks to water blast my Swan plants/milkweed!! Finally this week I bleached all my plants that have been eaten and existing plants that suffered the chemicals ready for the next batch off eggs to be laid. Hopefully this will do the trick and I will have a more successful summer like previous years. Fingers crossed. My caterpillars are looking much healthier again, they are eating swan plants that were protected from the sprays in my greenhouse, luckily I have heaps!
The list below are ideal steps to follow when raising monarch caterpillars.
- Rinse off your swan plants before serving them to your caterpillars.
- Don’t let butterflies emerge from their chrysalises above feeding caterpillars.
- Regularly clean out poop and caterpillar corpses.
- Disinfect your swan plants at the end of each batch, wiping the leaves down with a bleach solution (95% water and 5% bleach). This helps to get rid of spores.
- Rather than having the disease wipe out every plant and caterpillar, keep your swan plants in several different areas of your garden, which will help containment if you suspect disease.
For heaps more information and advice about raising healthy caterpillars find it all in my new book, available to order online now.