But­ter­fly car­ries re­gal charm

Facts about the monarch

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Mat­ing pe­riod: Mid-sum­mer, takes 1 month from egg to adult Life­span: Up to 8 months Wing­span: 85-110mm En­e­mies: Wasp, sol­dier bug and pray­ing man­tis

Travel: In the US, monar­chs travel thou­sands of kilo­me­tres to hi­ber­nate Speed: Can travel up to 40kmh Came: May have been pre-Euro­pean in NZ, but in­tro­duc­tion of swan plants brought big num­bers

Found: Any­where in NZ, usu­ally in warmer ur­ban ar­eas

Mag­i­cal monar­chs: Monarch but­ter­flies can live up to eight months. Ur­sula Bald­win is a big fan of monar­chs, but the ones she prefers live in her porch rather than Wind­sor Cas­tle.

The Ti­tahi Bay res­i­dent, with the help of her chil­dren, has been do­ing her small bit to help the monarch but­ter­fly pop­u­la­tion for the past three sum­mers.

In her back gar­den she has swan plants, which at­tract cater­pil­lars that even­tu­ally be­come chrysalises.

The chrysalises are care­fully trans­ferred to a spe­cially cre­ated tower in Ms Bald­win’s shel­tered porch and, about this time of year, monar­chs emerge. Last week, she had 60 chrysalises ready to hatch.

Ms Bald­win is aiding, rather than ma­nip­u­lat­ing, the process. It was also a valu­able life ed­u­ca­tion tool for her chil­dren, she said.

‘‘Af­ter not see­ing monar­chs around for ages, I started to find the cater­pil­lars on the ground every­where and af­ter do­ing some re­search, found out they are dis­ap­pear­ing.

‘‘I’ve started small and it’s be­come some­thing that’s re­ally im­por­tant to me.’’

Hav­ing about 50 monar­chs fly around her in Kura Park last year was an amaz­ing mo­ment in her life, she said.

This time of year is im­por­tant and Ms Bald­win is al­ways hope­ful of see­ing dozens of chrysalises on the swan plants. She said 20 per cent would not make it to be­come but­ter­flies, but she was help­ing the odds by pro­vid­ing a shel­tered porch.

She has be­come an ex­pert on the sub­ject of monar­chs and has even de­voted a Face­book page to her pas­sion — search for Ur­sula’s Monar­chs.

‘‘They’re an amaz­ing crea­ture and I just want to help as many sur­vive as I can.’’

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