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.