MONARCH CATERPILLARS - BALLOON COTTON BUSH WEED
This morning while pulling out seeded Balloon Cotton Bush Weed (Gomphocarpus physocarpus) after the rain, I found two of the plants had Monarch Caterpillars (Danaus plexippus) residing on them. Monarchs were self introduced to Australia in the early 1870's from North America. The milky weed of the cotton bush weed is one of their host plants, and this plant protects them, as by feeding on it, it results in them being toxic to predators. Birds will apparently be violently ill after eating monarch caterpillars, although it is noted that the Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike & Pied Currawong seem to be able to tolerate them. "The caterpillars' bright colour is a warning to these predators that they are potentially toxic" (Australian Museum)
So now I have the quandary of finding another host plant to move them to, wishing I had just cut the balloon seed balls off the weed and left it for the caterpillars for the time being. Now to go looking for other milk weeds on the property to transfer the caterpillars onto.
|Monarch Caterpillars (Danaus plexippus) Jarowair 06/06/16|
|The front end of a Monarch Caterpillar (Danaus plexippus) Jarowair 06/06/16|
|The back end of the Monarch Caterpillars (Danaus plexippus) Jarowair 06/06/16|