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.