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How do you recognise an overwintering monarch?

How do you recognise an overwintering monarch?

People are asking how to find overwintering monarchs, and Jacqui Knight, secretary of the Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust shares the trick.

“Firstly, the right time is on a sunny winter’s day – and you have to go looking when the day is just warming up,” she says.

At this time of the year, monarch butterflies will be in ‘diapause’, which means that they’re sexually mature but they won’t breed until the spring. Instead, they gather in large groups on the sunny side of trees, mostly conifers like cedars and firs.

“They can be difficult to see as the outside of their wings, closed, looks just like autumn leaves,” she added.

Butterflies can only fly when they are warmed by the sun, so as they warm up they will begin to fly.

“And that’s the really exciting thing to look for.”

They will glide around their chosen tree and as they get energised as the sun heats their wings, they will leave the tree to search for nectar.

“By staying still in the treetops during the cold or wet weather they conserve their energy. But when they get warm enough to fly they will go looking for nectar sources in gardens. People with old-fashioned camellias and bottlebrushes will tell you monarchs visit during the warm winter days.”

The Trust is asking people to report sightings of overwintering monarchs to So while you’re out walking – or playing golf – keep an eye on the treetops and look out for monarchs.


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