The Swannery – nurturing monarchs at Rhode Street School

One of the first things you notice when you enter Rhode Street School are the biodiverse and vibrant gardens – it’s a living ecosystem.  Colourful flowers provide the much-needed nectar for pollinators including monarch butterflies which are regularly seen.  But Enviroagents at Rhode Street discovered a problem with their monarch caterpillars – Asian paper wasps were taking small caterpillars back to their nests to feed their young. Caterpillars less than 2 cm long seem to be the most vulnerable.

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The agents decided they needed to create a safe haven for their young caterpillars.  Maia – a Year 8 student suggested covering the swan plants with a net, but after some further thinking the group decided that a more permanent and secure solution would be better.  A Year 5 Class designed and built ‘The Swannery’ a small shelter used to house several swan plants that small monarch caterpillars could be transferred into. The Swannery is located outside Room 6, so these Year 1-2 students keep a close eye on it and are about to let the butterflies out when they hatch.  Students also use nets to catch paper wasps and stand on them.  If they see a paper wasp nest they let an adult know who is able to destroy it. Learning about and looking after butterflies is a great way to learn about the importance of biodiversity and habitats.  The Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust is an excellent source of information https://www.monarch.org.nz

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