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Where are NZ’s butterflies?

Where are NZ’s butterflies?

It’s confirmed: anecdotal evidence tells us that New Zealand’s butterflies and moths are on the decline. But now statistics are needed to document this situation before endemic species disappear altogether.

“We’ve got to halt this catastrophe,” says Brian Patrick, one of the country’s keenest butterfly specialists. “Several butterflies could become extinct even before they are described.”

That’s why the trust has launched its Big Backyard Butterfly Count – anyone can get involved in counting where NZ’s butterflies can be found, and in what numbers.

“While we hear from our members and other nature-lovers that they don’t see this butterfly or that one any more, we need more specific information,” added Rebecca Bibby, Chair of the Moths and Butterflies of NZ Trust, a charity established for the conservation of NZ’s Lepidoptera, which works mostly in the education area. “It’s citizen science and anyone can contribute.”

“There is a lot being done for kiwi, kauri and kereru but there are many people for whom those species are out of reach. Butterflies, generally, are all around us, wherever one lives.”

“The forest ringlet is a classic example of our at risk butterflies,” added Brian. “DOC has labelled it as ‘in serious decline’ but it used to be found on Auckland’s North Shore, in Northland’s forested high country and in the Wellington region. Has it disappeared completely?”

He added that kahukura or the red admiral, unique to this country, was once found in most parts of NZ but is now non-existent in Auckland. He also mentioned a tiny purple copper butterfly which exists only in one coastal car-park in the South Island

“These beauties are teetering on the edge of survival,” he said. “The plight of our butterfly fauna is heavily dependent on human respect if they are to survive and thrive.”

“Everyone’s contribution will help – even if they see no butterflies!”

The form is on


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