Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

Do you recognise me?

here, have a better look…you can click on any of my photos to see me better.

Many American gardener’s – and those living further north in Australia – probably know this visitor well, but it is a real delight in my part of Australia to actually find a Danaus plexippus (known to us as a Wanderer and to others as a Monarch) caterpillar in the garden. They do come here, but are certainly not common.

Originally these butterflies came from much further afield as they are introduced from the Americas. I’ve only just started reading up on this, but there does not seem to be consensus about how they came to appear in Sydney in the mid 1800’s.  Some think they came here under their own steam and some think that they were intentionally introduced. There is an interesting article discussing thoughts on early migration here.

We had planted a Milkweed/Swan Plant in the hope that we might attract some Wanderers but didn’t actually expect to see any. In the end we transferred a couple from a friend’s nearby garden who has had Milkweeds (and Wanders) before, so we guess they knew to come looking. They settled in very well to the task of chewing up our plant and we have been absolutely captivated by watching a couple of  the beautiful (and surprisingly tiny) gold spotted chrysalis developing and becoming increasingly transparent.

They are now at the point where we can actually see the colour and shape of the butterfly’s new wings developing and from what I’ve read, its emergence is not far off now, so time to transfer it to safe lodgings for its emergence before releasing it back outside.

While ours have not emerged just yet, we were stopped in our tracks out walking a couple of days ago when an adult male  Wanderer butterfly hovered in front of us for a few moments before landing on a nearby tree.

If you are interested in reading more about the Wander butterfly in Australia try here and here.

cheers,

Heidi


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Comments on: "Who is this exotic visitor?" (14)

  1. Aaaahhhh! How lovely! I recently spotted a bright orange larvae and wish I get to see its adult version soon… Fingers crossed!

  2. I have to admit, I was NOT expecting to see this! The Monarch Butterflies overwinter near here, at Natural Bridges State Park. I didn’t realize you get them in Australia…least of all in your own garden! How fantastically fun! 🙂

    • Hi Clare – I thought that they might make an interesting surprise 🙂 The good news is that she emerged today, but quite late in the day, so resting and exercising her wings for an early start tomorrow. Will post a picture of two in the next couple of days!

  3. I also grow milkweeds in my garden, and one time I saw about half dozen of monarch cats to chew on the plants. Only I did not get chance to see the chrysalis forming and the actual butterflies. How amazing the nature is!

    • Hello Ami! great to hear you saw that cats and hopefully next time you will see the chrysalis too (we were surprised how low down to the ground they were when we found them – and on grass stalks, not on the milkweed) they are such an amazing thing to watch change!

  4. How very wonderful to have this visitor your garden! I’ve never seen the chrysalis in this state before so I think it most special you found it and can watch it. The name you all call it is neat too.

    • Hi Tina – we are very excited about our visitors! The second butterfly has now emerged (Both were female) and is waiting for the day to warm up a little before returning outside.

  5. Hi Heidi: Monarch Butterflies are one of our favorites. We have never been able to follow one for a complete cycle. We have seen the caterpillars and the Butterflies but not the chrysalis. Perhaps this year will be the one. Hope you can follow yours threw the complete cycle.

    Have a wonderful day,
    John

  6. Hello John, your comment really highlights for us how lucky we are! Both butterflies have now emerged, which has been fantastic to see! I really hope that they return again next year, at least I now know when I should be keeping an eye out for them.

  7. Hey, we get those here too and they are always a delight to see. I plant a lot of butterfly attractants in my garden just so these little buddies show up. I too didn’t realize they were anywhere but in the Americas.

    • Hiya Jess, these were certainly a surprise showing up amongst our butterfly regulars! Hopefully they will be back next year – this was the first year we had milkweed in the garden, so who knows?!

  8. I am going backwards here Heidi! I too am learning something new! It is great to know that Monarchs live in your world too. You have to love those perky caters!

  9. Hi Carol – I’m still smilling from the pure delight of having these critters in the garden! While I knew it was possible that I might see one here one day, to actually do so is amazing!

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