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Pesticides affect more than what we think!

Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust


Pesticides affect more than what we think!

Once again the Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust is urging all butterfly gardeners to be careful when buying milkweed (swan plant) from garden centres.

“Every year it happens,” says Jacqui Knight, Secretary of the Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust. “People are desperately looking for food for their Monarch caterpillars, and end up buying plants affected with pesticide residue.”

“We hear from adults and children distraught to see their caterpillars dying,” she says. “People really enjoy their hobby and pets, and are saddened and angry when they have previously been told the plants they are buying are safe for caterpillars.”

One enthusiast lost over 100 butterflies because she was told the plants she bought were ‘pesticide-free’. Laboratory testing proved otherwise. Plants don’t have to be directly sprayed to be affected – spray can drift, condense and drop, or be windblown.

“I found out later it only takes one drop,” the enthusiast told members of the Trust. “My butterflies had severe damage to their nervous and endocrine systems.”

The Trust acknowledges that growers would find it difficult to sell plants covered with, or damaged by, caterpillars.

“But there are ways of growing plants so that they are safe for humans and other living things.”

“There is no need to use pesticides,” says Jacqui. “The growers should also inform garden centre staff honestly about any sprays used, and withholding periods.”

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The Monarch Butterfly Trust is slowly teaching butterfly gardeners about the need to plan ahead.

“More and more people are planting earlier and making sure that they’ve got enough plants for the season. They’re protecting some of their plants so that Monarchs also lay elsewhere. And with management, the plants are lasting several years, so there are cost savings too.”

More information can be found on the website, or by email to


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