SHARE
Butterfly Haven . . . Gordon Martin prepares to plant swan plants in the Oamaru Public Gardens. PHOTO: GUS PATTERSON

The Waitaki District Council has allocated a patch of land in the Oamaru Public Gardens for monarch butterflies.

Gordon Martin, one of the founders of the newly-formed group Friends of the Monarch Butterfly, said the bare land would be planted with swan plants and become an oasis for monarchs.

“It’s a bare patch of ground at the moment. We’ve got a team together and are working on a plan,” Mr Martin said.

The movement to make Oamaru the monarch butterfly capital of New Zealand had been gaining momentum recently.

The success of the butterflies in Oamaru had been far greater than Mr Martin expected.

Mr Martin, who is also the Waitaki Community Gardens head gardener, said he was grateful for the offers of help to grow swan plants at his nursery in the public gardens next year.

“It’s sort of been a one-man operation until now.

“Now I’m started to see light at the end of it all,” he said.

Last month, the Friends of the Monarch Butterfly group hosted an event at the Loan and Merc and formally announced its campaign to increase the local butterfly population.

Membership of the group has grown from 40 to 400.

Mr Martin said the goal was for each member to have six swan plants in their garden. By the end of January, he hoped to have the more than 1000 swan plants he had grown planted in various gardens around the district.

“People are joining us every day,” he said.

“The benefits of the Friends of the Monarch Butterfly are not only that they get their plants, but we are asking them if they have too many butterflies .. to bring some [caterpillars] into the [public] gardens.”

People who did not have caterpillars in their gardens would be able to get some to transplant on to their swan plants, Mr Martin said.

Monarch butterflies had been very prominent recently, but had been less visible in the past week, he said.

“I believe that’s the end of that [life] cycle so now the next cycle won’t come in until December and January.

“They are laying their eggs now and it will take six to eight weeks to get to the butterfly stage.”