Sunday, December 29, 2019

Monarch Butterflies 2019 : Part 6

Our last entry for the year. I appreciate the funny side of the blog has been overshadowed by the butterfly situation. The jokes ares still there, just click on a subject to the right. Anyway, this last blog reveals the randy side of the Monarch butterfly.

I had a newborn female reluctant to fly away from the swan plant. I tried to coax her to go and all she did was fly a few inches and attach herself to my arm, steadfastly refusing to budge. I've always had that kind of magnetism. After about ten minutes I took her over to some flowers nearby and managed to get the love struck butterfly onto a flower.

My first selfie with a butterfly
No sooner had I taken two steps back when a male swooped down on top of her and made sure she was primed to lay eggs. She hadn't even taken any sustenance since entering the chrysalis stage.

If that wasn't bad enough another suitor arrived and was trying to take over. It wasn't able to cut in on the activities but was very persistent nonetheless. My camera wasn't set up for action movement but you can see well enough what was happening. They don't waste any time getting on with the necessary functions of life.

If at first you don't succeed....

...try again

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Monarch Butterflies 2019 : Part 5

We've had a rush of new entrants to the world of butterflies. Unfortunately, we have had to stop collecting eggs for some respite. At least we had had an impact on the population in our area. People in our vicinity have been commenting on seeing Monarchs in their garden, something missing in recent years.

Here is a swan plant with many newly hatched butterflies.
The plastic below was used for a brief hailstorm. 

Here are a couple of new arrivals preparing to take to the air.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Monarch Butterflies 2019 : Part 4

The wasps are out in force, decimating caterpillars or newly hatched butterflies. They are aggressive, voracious and exotic in origin. A far as these imports go, the only good ones are dead ones. It means we have to have a nursery system otherwise none would survive. We also have to be aware of praying mantis' and earwigs, which seem to be killing the caterpillars.

Below are two ways to care for the chrysalis'. We are trying different things to see what works best. Both of these are good but with the lower one, the frame sits on a container so we need to keep an eye to get them out to spread their wings.

We have now released 134 butterflies for the spring (southern hemisphere) as of 31/12/2019. For the full calendar year it's 217 in total.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Monarch Butterflies 2019 : Part 3

We are now in November 2019 and for Southern Hemisphere folk, that's spring. The Monarch Butterflies have been at it early and we are already into to breeding season. Starting on the 6th of November they have been turning into their beautiful selves and flying around our garden.

The weather still isn't at its optimum for their liking but increasing rapidly. Up until now* we have sent 15 on their journey. They mate like rabbits and we have dozens of eggs being laid. So many caterpillars are on the production line and dozens more in the chrysalis stage. We have taken 25 caterpillars to a neighbour to assist as the volume was getting too much to handle for the set up we have.

*As of 02/02/19

Here are some of the caterpillars chewing away nicely

A new one just hatched from the chrysalis stage
Can you see the four new arrivals?

An old, frail one is at the top and new one near the bottom

Friday, October 25, 2019


In the Rangitikei District of NZ (near Palmerston North) is a small town of Bulls. It was named after a settler James Bull but the name later was changed to what it is called now. The town likes to play on the name via puns. All around the town are signs where the word bull features, usually replacing the 'ble' at the end of a word. There are a few examples below.

Thursday, October 24, 2019


On the centre west of the North Island of NZ, there is a bulge of land protruding out into the Tasman Sea. It is the Taranaki province, known for its dairy farming. On the middle of the Taranaki bulge stands a large mountain, apart from any mountain range. It is Mt Egmont and a fine sight it is, when not covered in cloud. Below are two pictures of the mountain, one from a roadside and the other taken moments later with the zoom function in operation.


Situated to the east of Mt Egmont is a small town of Stratford, named after the one in the UK which is famous for W. Shakespear. Many of the streets are named after people in his plays and the clock tower on the main street occasionally comes alive with Romeo and Juliet speaking to each other from windows in the structure.

Across the road from that is an area in front of the library, which features car tyre planters made to look like tea cups. I believe they were made by local students. Two are featured below.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Views from The Queen Charlotte Walk

A short and twisty road trip west from Picton, NZ brings you to the beginning of the Queen Charlotte Walk. It's not too strenuous and well worth the effort as it the early part looks down on the Marlborough Sounds. Here are a couple of shots of what I mean.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Butterfly Wars

Keeping butterflies alive is difficult. Wasps are a problem but the real issue where we live is the praying mantis. I have heard the local variety has bred with an aggressive arrival from South Africa and have become not only prolific in number but also voracious. We use netted containers as seen below, where they then latch.

Below is a new butterfly that has had it's body consumed and some wings and only a small part of the body is left. We have seen a praying mantis actually eating large caterpilars and even butterflies before they fly off. We didn't take a photograph of that (too gruesome) but highlights the problem with insects out of control.

We would have these predators flying on to our property every day looking for food. I have seen houses nearby with several praying mantis' on the walls of the house. It was almost in plague proportions. Despite that, 80 new butterflies took to the air from our home.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Crafty Seal

This seal was trying and trying to get on to a boat moored by a floating salmon farm. After several attempts, it made it. See the sequence below, captured by yours truly.

Yet another attempt

Just about there!

If I just wriggle a little bit more

Finally on deck

I need to find a suitable spot to sunbathe

Ah, I think I've found it 

Now for a snooze

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Cat Trap

I was sitting in my car in a residential street when I saw a tabby cat walking along the road near a small wall. Crouching behind the end of the wall was a black cat waiting for the other cat to arrive. I wondered if this was a game these two felines played or was something more serious.

When the tabby reached the corner, the black cat leapt out and challenged the wandering moggy. There was a standoff for a little while, as you see in the picture below. I decided to end the confrontation by getting out of the car and approaching them. The tabby ran across the road and the black cat chased it part of the way before returning to its property.

My camera on my ipad doesn't like darker settings so the picture isn't very good but it does capture the tense situation. Cats are very territorial and will aggressively defend their patch.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Wasp Problem

We have had a wasp problem in NZ. It's not as bad as it has been but they are still somewhat of an issue. They are predatory in nature and are usually the perpetrator but sometimes the victim as well. Here is a case of the latter.

The wasp has got itself tangled in a spider's web. As I noticed it, a spider came running out to see what was for dinner. I was about to go out, so left it at that. When I came home, nothing was there so I cannot be sure of the outcome. However, for the brief time I observed the situation the spider seemed unperturbed at what was entrapped.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Thirty Three Years Married

I have been married to my cariad (Welsh for sweetheart) for thirty three years. We saw this on someone's fence, showing their address. It's made of china cups. We thought it fitting to take a snap as we had just celebrated our anniversary.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Literate Dogs?

Can dogs read? Of course not. However, either someone thinks they do or hopes the owner acts before the dirty deed is done.

What does that small sign say?

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Monarch Butterflies 2019 : Part 2

Once they have latched and turned into chrysalis', we move them inside. They soon turn a dark colour before bursting out into the world. We then take them outside and let their wings dry. At this time they probably get familiar with the new body they now have.

Then its time to take to flight, without any experience of doing so. They seem to orient themselves with the area, before flying away to find food, mate and find swan plants to lay eggs on. All without any instruction on how to do any of it. Clearly not the work of blind chance. For the season, we've said au revoir to 80 butterflies.

Their bodies reconstituting themselves inside the chrysalis

Newly hatched and still damp

The wings drying nicely 

Soon to leave home (sniff)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Monarch Butterflies 2019 : Part 1

This is the first installment for 2019. For other years, click on the label 'Butterflies'. There were less eggs this year, something noted nationally. We have also changed our way of rearing them. Previously our kitchen bench became the caterpillar nursery, with the associated mess you get with anything that eats constantly. This time around, they were in a protected basket. If we didn't do something, they become a gourmet diet for several predator insects and probably none would survive.

Below is a series of pictures. The first shows eggs and a tiny caterpillar. Then there are three pictures of their protective enclosure.

Eggs and a tiny caterpillar (circled)

Safe and sound

Really hungry by now

Ready to transform. Notice some have latched
onto the rim outside the basket

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Book Exchange

Here's a book exchange with a nice theme to it. The book holder is placed on a front fence on the roadside. People can bring along and/or take away a book(s) without charge. It's a positive initiative.