But­ter­fly pas­sion

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By KA­T­RINA LINTONBON

Jack Poole’s fas­ci­na­tion with monarch but­ter­flies started in 1938. He read a fea­ture ar­ti­cle about them in the Auck­land Star and hasn’t looked back since.

‘‘I can re­mem­ber the ar­ti­cle very clearly,’’ he said.

‘‘It was about how peo­ple at that time were buy­ing swan plants to try and at­tract monarch but­ter­flies into their gar­dens.’’

In 1966, Mr Poole moved to Mata­mata and over the years he has trans­formed his back­yard into a monarch but­ter­fly’s par­adise.

Each swan plant, which monarch but­ter­flies are strongly at­tracted to, is strictly mon­i­tored by Mr Poole who checks daily for eggs and monarch cater­pil­lars and their sub­se­quent for­ma­tion into a chrysalis.

When that chrysalis is formed, Mr Poole lov­ingly re­moves it from un­der the swan plant leaf and re­lo­cates it to un­der one of his two bird houses.

He keeps records of hatch­ings ev­ery year and last sea­son 377 monarch but­ter­flies emerged from chrysalises.

There could have been a few more but if they fly away as soon as they hatch, Mr Poole doesn’t count them.

You might find your­self won­der­ing how he man­ages to keep records.

‘‘When they come out of the chrysalis I take them to my feeder and give them some­thing to drink. They al­ways seem quite thirsty af­ter be­ing tucked away for such a long time,’’ Mr Poole said.

Even though Mr Poole is not part of any of­fi­cial Monarch But­ter­fly En­thu­si­asts club, his but­ter­fly sanc­tu­ary would ri­val those of many a monarch but­ter­fly spe­cial­ist.

He has many books, news­pa­per clip­pings and magazines all re­lated to mon- arch but­ter­flies sit­ting on his cof­fee ta­bles.

There have been few oc­ca­sions when some of the but­ter­flies have de­cided to hang around for a while.

Most of them move on fairly quickly and gen­er­ally con­gre­gate in Cen­ten­nial Dr. The life­span of a monarch but­ter­fly has been es­ti­mated to be about four weeks.

At present Mr Poole has at least 100 swan plants. He has many seedlings in lit­tle pots and thou­sands of seeds.

‘‘They (swan plants) don’t deal with the frost very well so I have to keep a close eye on them,’’ he said.

His en­thu­si­asm for monarch but­ter­flies has also been in­stilled into mem­bers of his fam­ily.

‘‘Oh yes, they all come out here. Monarch but­ter­flies are just so in­ter­est­ing,’’ he said.

‘‘I think they’re mar­vel­lous crea­tures.’’

Monarch man: Jack Poole looks at a monarch cater­pil­lar un­der one of the leaves of his many swan plants.

Amaz­ing sight: This photo was taken by Mr Poole last year. It shows many chrysalises that had been re­lo­cated very del­i­cately by Mr Poole to un­der one of his bird houses to make sure they hatched safely.

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