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Help Save Monarch Butterfly's - Plant Milkweed

Help Save Monarch Butterfly's - Plant Milkweed

This summer is much the same as othe summers for the Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust. The phone rings... an email arrives. Another desperate plea from a New Zealander, it could be anywhere between Riversdale and Reinga, crying out for help to save hundreds of Monarch caterpillars.

"People just don't plant enough milkweed early enough in the season," says Jacqui Knight who looks after the Monarch hotline. "Yesterday I heard of one woman who drove from Christchurch to Hokitika because she knew of plants there - that's a seven hour journey to save some insects."

"While we think it's wonderful, one has to wonder at the logic of it all." When people contact the Monarch Butterfly Trust, based in Russell, Jacqui endeavours to match up the people with too many caterpillars with someone in their neighbourhood who has surplus plant material. "We also advise them of alternative foods. There's no short answer, but we do ask people to plant more plants earlier in the season."

Everyone loves Monarch butterflies she says. The organisation is learning more about these and other butterflies at their inaugural conference next weekend in Russell. "We've got a scientist who has studied Monarch butterflies for many years coming to answer all our questions. We're also liaising with garden centres and landscape gardeners to give them advice on creating habitat for our butterflies. We have to get the information out there - no-one likes to hear of butterflies on the threatened species list."


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