All creatures depend on other species (plant and animal) for their survival. No one species or animal should be considered as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Everything is part of the food chain, i.e. it eats others (animal and vegetable), and is consumed by others. A central principle of ecology (the study of ecosystems, ecosystems being the natural unit in which a species lives) is that each living thing has an ongoing and continual relationship with every other thing that makes up its environment.
If you want a garden full of butterflies, then it is important to discourage the other creatures that feed off it. You can exterminate them, discourage them, or move them to other parts of the garden. Considering that a Monarch butterfly can lay around 1,000 eggs – even the norm of 200-300 – if every one of these eggs resulted in a healthy adult, we would soon be overrun with Monarch butterflies. Bio-diversity is the word to remember - it keeps the balance.
Pests and Predators include -
- Praying Mantis
- Shield Bugs
Having a garden that “suits” butterflies is also a way of encouraging their predators.
So what do you do if you want a butterfly garden with the least predators possible?
Check out the MBNZT separate page on ‘butterfly gardening’ for ideas, and to get a list of typical nectar plants, download the colourful poster.
Below are links to handouts that may be helpful to you in reducing the major species that affect your milkweed (e.g. swan plant) and the major predator of caterpillars – the social wasps.
- See more at Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust
Ants eat Monarch eggs and also carry away the newly hatched caterpillars to feed their young.
Aphids suck the life out of swan plants (NZ Milkweed) and ants farm them, on the plant, for their honey dew.
This video is sad to watch and, although it's an American video, we do have similar wasps in NZ.
My comment is - If you know there are wasps in your area, play it safe and bring all chrysalis's indoors where they will be out of danger until the butterfly has emerged.