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Monarch Butterfly's Thriving

8 August 2005

Monarch Butterfly's Thriving

From the Far North to Stewart Island, they’re alive and well!

From the Far North, to Stewart Island, the Monarch butterfly is alive and well!

That’s the initial evidence from the Monarch butterfly sightings survey being undertaken by the Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust.

“The results are very positive,” said Jacqui Knight on behalf of the Trust.

“We have had reports of sightings of single butterflies from most coastal regions,” she said. “And heard of overwintering sites – clusters of the butterfly in their hundreds, perhaps thousands – from places such as Franklin, Hamilton, Hastings, Katikati, Manurewa, Maraetai, Mt Maunganui, Napier, Nelson, Omokoroa, Palmerston North, Tauranga and Whitianga.”

The Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust was established in light of the proposed development at Butterfly Bay, near the mouth of the Whangaroa Harbour.

“There has been no documentation whatsoever of the habitat of the Monarch butterfly there, the proposal doesn’t even mention it!” said Jacqui, “We say that the Monarch, which was believed to have been blown here from America in the mid-1800s – and that gives it ‘native’ status – has as much right as any other native species to be protected. And an overwintering site is significant.”

From all accounts New Zealand people would agree with the sentiments of the Trustees. A campaign to encourage members to raise the $5,000 required to establish the Trust and engage an entomologist to study the habitat has already generated over 100 members at $20 each - and another $1,000 in donations.

Those people who see Monarch butterflies, especially larger numbers, are encouraged to report their sightings on line at http://monarch.org.nz/monarch/report-monarch-sighting/. Another option is that they can be emailed to sighting@monarch.org.nz, or by regular mail to 27 Matauwhi Road, Russell.

“But it’s preferable if people key in their own data, as they can see what information we’re collecting.

While in America the Monarch’s numbers have been reduced by the loss of wild spaces, use of pesticides and the decimation of their overwintering habitat in Mexico, the Monarch in New Zealand has been affected by the large numbers of predators and parasites and spraying in West Auckland.

Over 383 sightings have been recorded over the past three weeks, 23% of these from the Bay of Plenty. Information such as nectar sources and favoured trees will build up a picture of what the Monarch needs to enhance its overwintering habitat in New Zealand, and will then be used at other sites around the country.

ENDS


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