Monarch Butterflies New Zealand- Did You Know?

5 Interesting Butterfly Facts about Monarch Butterflies New Zealand including what type of milkweeds the caterpillars eat and where do the butterflies overwinter?
Photo By Aileen | Auckland New Zealand

1. Many butterfly enthusiasts are surprised to discover that monarchs exist across several continents, including the 93% submerged former continent of Zealandia.

New Zealand is not a continent, but a small remaining piece of history.

2. The monarchs’ main food source in New Zealand comes from the Gomphocarpus genus. This includes Giant swan plant and swan plant, milkweed varieties that are also growing in popularity with gardeners (and monarchs) across the U.S.

See Photos and get more info on Giant Swan Plant (Gomphocarpus physocarpus)

See Photos and get more info on Swan Plant (Gomphocarpus fruticosus)

3. No matter how far you travel, you can never escape the dreaded Oleander aphids. The infamous orange milkweed pests torture gardeners worldwide:

10 Ways to Stop Aphids from Taking Over your Milkweed

4. Where do New Zealand monarch butterflies go for the winter?

New Zealand monarchs migrate to local overwintering grounds in more temperate NZ locations including Christchurch and Tauranga Bay. The temperature in these regions doesn’t typically go below 10° C or 50° F.

In the southern hemisphere, summer arrives in late December, and monarch season is in full swing.

5. The Monarch Butterfly Trust of New Zealand Trust was initially formed to protect the Tauranga Bay overwintering site, but has now expanded to support the moth and butterfly populations across New Zealand.

Here is more about the trust and what you can do to help support New Zealand monarchs:

Moth and Butterfly Trust of New Zealand Info

If you’d like to support monarchs in your own back yard, sign up for Free Butterfly Garden Tips and Raising Info for North American Monarch Butterflies
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  1. I am looking after a monarch who’s wings are deformed. Just wondering how long do they live for? How often should I feed it.

    1. Hi Linda, if the butterfly is healthy it could live for months. If it deformed due to heavy OE infection, it probably won’t live very long. More info here

  2. Hi. I’ve got 3 swan plants in central Otago that have 6 caterpillars on them. We just had a -4.6 frost today and they are inside now alive. But should I have done that? I don’t want to mess with their cycle. We were shocked we had caterpillars in April to be fair and they haven’t changed yet.

    1. Hi Erin, if there’s frost, you can certainly bring them in to finish raising. Cold temps slow down metamorphosis while warm temps speed it up…they shouldn’t have any issues adjusting if they are healthy.

  3. Hi, we’ve got a monarch butterfly that has just hatched (end of may). Will she survive if we just let fly? Thanks, Izzy

    1. Hi Izzy, if she’s healthy, yes! More info on releasing monarchs here:

      Releasing Monarch Butterflies

  4. Hi what do I do with my butterflies once they emerge? Is it best to let them just go outside and leave or can you keep them a day or two? In wanaka nz

  5. I have sooooo many swan plants this year and have so many butterflies hanging around but we are yet to have even a single caterpillar. Does anyone know if I can get caterpillars from somewhere?

    1. Hi Pam, I don’t know much about the NZ species of paper wasps, but they’re a big issue in north America so i’d say there’s a pretty good chance you’re right:

      13 Monarch Predators

    2. They are a huge issue, some years the only caterpillars that we can save, are on the plants we put in our glasshouse or inside.

  6. hi, can you please tell me where i can get a blue monarch butterfly plant?

  7. Hi there – what should I do if a butterfly hatches and it’s wings are still crumpled or mismatched after a couple of days? It can’t fly so it isn’t able to source food or a mate.

  8. I’ve never had this before, but it looks like I have rust on the stems of my milkweed. What do I do?

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