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Beautiful Butterflies

Updated on March 9, 2017
Photo Credit -
Photo Credit -

I just love butterflies in my garden, not that I see a lot these days.

I have more wasps flying around than anything else, I believe the wasps are destroying the insect life, like the bee hives which they killed off last season.

The Monarch Butterfly is one of the best of butterflies in my garden, they are so beautiful, even if they eat all my swan plants.

Amazing Life Cycle of a Monarch Butterfly

Butterflies are not as plentiful in the garden like they used to be, by planting the Asclepias curassavica seeds in your garden as it is part of the milkweed family, and exudes a milky sap from the stem and leaves when cut. Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on this plant, and the resulting larvae use the plant leaves as a food source.

Although it is nice to see the butterflies, there is a warning, all milkweeds are poisonous if ingested, and the milky sap is a skin irritant. The butterflies whose caterpillars feed on milkweeds contain the same poisonous glycosides and are poisonous as well.

But sometimes to keep these butterflies from going instinct we need to help feed the caterpillars.

Monarch Butterflies.

About ten years ago I planted some Swan Plants (Asclepias).

Yes you have to believe it, I had an evasion of Monarch Butterflies, they laid their eggs on my swan plants, I was so happy those beautiful butterflies flying around in my garden, until a few weeks later, I was so surprised.

What's happen to my Swan Plants?

Yes no leaves and caterpillas everywhere with nothing to eat.

I was told, you can feed them pumpkin, which I did, well some survive and some did not, but there was no swan plant for them to eat they had eaten all of it.

I brought a lot of the caterpillers inside, that formed a pupae (turn into chrysalis) and some did hatch and where let go outside when they could fly, that was a soon as their wings dried enough, the door was opened and away they flew.

The photo I have at the top is one of them, that never flew.

I have now had this one for over ten years in my china cabinet and it is as beautiful today as he was when it hatch out of it's chrysalis.

About Monarch Butterflies

The eggs are creamy white and later turn pale yellow.

The eggs hatch (after 4 days), revealing worm-like larvae, the caterpillars.

During the caterpillar stage, monarchs store energy in the form of fat and nutrients to carry them through the non-feeding pupa stage. The caterpillar stage lasts around 2 weeks.

The chrysalis is blue-green with a band of black and gold on the end of the abdomen.

Just before the butterfly emerges,its orange and black wings can be seen.

The mature butterfly emerges after about two pupal weeks and hangs from the split chrysalis for several hours until its wings are dry.

Monarchs Butterflies can live a life of two to eight weeks in a garden, if they sufficient flowers for nectar.

Did You Know?

The swan plant's milky sap is full of toxins that transfer to monarchs when they eat it.

This act protects the caterpillars from birds and other predators, who recognise that their distintive colours mean poison.


Photo Credit -
Photo Credit -
Photo Credit -
Photo Credit -

New Zealand Red Admiral Butterfly

New Zealand Red Admiral Butterfly, Maori name is kahukura which means red cloak.

The above photo is showing eyespot on the underside of the forewing, (rear wing edge is damaged so more than usual of the eyespot can be seen here).

Actually, the Red Admiral Butterfly being so beautiful, it is hard to believe that one of their main food to eat is the Urtica ferox, commonly known as Ongaonga, it is a nettle that is endemic to New Zealand.

Sometimes known as the 'tree nettle' which is everywhere on the bush land, when you are walking, you just make sure you do not touch it.

It is a medium sized butterfly with a 50-60mm wingspan.

The top side of the forewings is basically black with a central bright red bar running back from the front edge.

There are white spots, fringed with light blue, near the tips.

The rear wings are more a dark reddy brown with a red area containing four black circles.

The centre of each circle is pale blue.

The underside of the rear wings is a mottled collection of shapes and white, brown, black colours - very camouflaged when at rest.

A very beautiful butterfly but they do well in East Taranaki Bush, plenty of food for them.

showing eyespot on underside of forewing (rear wing edge is damaged so more than usual of the eyespot can be seen here)

The Food That Red Admiral Butterfly Eat.

Stinging Nettle = Urtica_ferox
Stinging Nettle = Urtica_ferox

Sometimes known as the 'tree nettle', ongaonga has woody stems and unusually large stinging spines, and can grow 5 metres tall.

Even the lightest touch can result in a painful sting that lasts several days.

Ongaonga is the main food plant for larvae of the New Zealand Red Admiral Butterfly or Kahukura eat.

There has been one recorded human death from contact-a lightly clad hunter who died five hours after walking through a dense patch, so it seems strange that this is the main food the the Red admiral butterfly eats.

Flying wasp. Photo Credit -
Flying wasp. Photo Credit -

Little about those pesky wasps

It does not matter how many wasps nest you destroy, those wasp just keep on coming back year after year, my guess is that the wasps are eating the caterpillars before the butterflies have a chance in life.

I did a studyed about those pesky wasps I find out that Colonies usually last only one year, with all but the queen dying at the onset of winter.

New queens and males (drones) are produced towards the end of the summer, and after mating, the queen overwinters in a hole or other sheltered location, sometimes in buildings.

Wasp nests are not reused from one year to the next.

So What I need to do, is now find that pesky Queen wasp in the winter.

Most likely living in my home in the roof, keeping warm, from the heat, of the chimney from the fireplace.

European beewolf carrying a honeybee towards its tunnel. Captured in The New Forest, England.

Photo Credit -
Photo Credit -

The Life Cycles of Butterflies: From Egg to Maturity, a Visual Guide to 23 Common Garden Butterflies

The Life Cycles of Butterflies: From Egg to Maturity, a Visual Guide to 23 Common Garden Butterflies
The Life Cycles of Butterflies: From Egg to Maturity, a Visual Guide to 23 Common Garden Butterflies

Accomplishing exactly what its title promises, this book describes in text and photos the butterflies that commonly visit gardens in the eastern states.

The authors, a sibling team of butterfly and gardening enthusiasts, detail every phase of each species.

Beginning with a chapter that looks at the basics of butterfly egg laying, the growth of caterpillars, metamorphosis, and butterfly behavior, the authors move to the heart of the book.

With exquisite close-up photography, the eggs, caterpillars, chrysalids, and adults of 23 well-known butterflies are revealed.


© 2011 Elsie Hagley

Do You Have Butterflies In Your Garden

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    • Elsie Hagley profile imageAUTHOR

      Elsie Hagley 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @VioletteRose LM: Yes it does. I would like one in my room, very attractive.

    • VioletteRose LM profile image

      VioletteRose LM 

      5 years ago

      The butterfly night light look so lovely :)

    • Elsie Hagley profile imageAUTHOR

      Elsie Hagley 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @Zeross4: Nice seeing you. I don't blame you not liking wasps, I was weeding some bulbs in the flower garden, when I thought a sandfly was biting my arm, but before I could kill it, I seen a wasp on my arm. I had short sleeves on my shirt and one when up the sleeve and sting me in the armpit. I had three wasps sting and did I swell they were so painful and itchy, it took a week before the swelling went down, so that's what happens when you disturb a wasp nest.. Needless to say I don't appreciate wasps either and now I am very weary now when weeding the garden.

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 

      5 years ago from Kentucky

      One of my biggest fears is wasps! I can't stand them, and have always been scared of them (don't really know why), but I do LOVE butterflies, and really enjoyed reading about and seeing all the beautiful photos!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Interesting information on the swan plants. I'm not sure if they grow in the U.S. -- will have to look into planting a few to attract monarchs. You are lucky to have so many beautiful butterflies in your yard.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Not often, we only are lucky enough to see them every now and then.

    • Elsie Hagley profile imageAUTHOR

      Elsie Hagley 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      @jolou: Thanks Joanne for visiting and commenting, I am sure that the wasp is taking over all insects that have a pupa, such as the bees etc, because they eat them.

      We have tried getting rid of these wasps but it is not easy, they have now destroyed the bee hives second year in a row. That's why we don't see many butterflies as that is what is happening to the chrysalis of the butterfly.

      So sad.

    • jolou profile image


      6 years ago

      Butterflies are lovely, although I don't see many in my area.

    • makorip lm profile image

      makorip lm 

      6 years ago

      Butterflies are amazing, don't get too many around our neighborhood. Good lens!

    • Camden1 profile image


      6 years ago

      I love butterflies, but we rarely have them in my garden. Maybe that's why they're so special - it's so unusual to see them that it's a wonderful surprise.

    • GeekGirl1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens. Butterflies are a beautiful creation of God.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      7 years ago from Canada

      I can hardly wait for the butterflies to start returning to our neighborhood. It is early spring and all the birds are back but no butterflies yet. They truly are the sign that summer has arrived.

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 

      8 years ago

      yes, and when i see a white one, i remember my mother. i think that she is visiting me

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Beautiful! I did not have as many butterflies this year as I would have liked. I will have to work on my yard to attract more next year. Beautiful page!

    • CCGAL profile image


      8 years ago

      I don't have a garden, now that we are full time RVers, but i do have a butterfly lens (a-tale-of-swallowtails-may-2009) that I have just placed your lens into one of the six related lens spots on. Since we lost the lensroll, that's the best I can do for giving you a quality backlink. Very nicely done - I love butterflies.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      No I don't have a garden - live in a condo. But I did enjoy learning from this lens. Well done.


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