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It’s okay to tag... ....Monarchs


for immediate release

It’s okay to tag... ....Monarchs

The Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust is once again encouraging New Zealanders to ‘get tagging’.

“We had a great response to last year’s tagging,” said Jacqui Knight, Secretary of the Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust. “There were 336 reports of finding tagged butterflies – although most of the flights showed that butterflies were staying in the community in which they were released.”

“But it is great to know that New Zealanders are desperate for information as to how they can help both the Monarch and other Lepidoptera species. The tagging has now been analysed by region – and we hope that this year other areas will get involved.”

Well over 3,000 New Zealanders have advised the Trust of seeing Monarchs, or what is killing their butterflies. And the scientific community is also involved.

In 2006 Dr Peter Maddison from Field Studies investigated one of the key Monarch overwintering sites, and discovered that the Monarch butterflies do not overwinter there any more.

“Historical data shows that thousands of Monarch butterflies used to overwinter there,” he said. “At a time you would expect Monarchs to be overwintering, I saw six, There are various reasons why – and these are fully documented in my report.”

As a consequence, the Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust began encouraging New Zealanders to get involved in measuring Lepidoptera species throughout the country.

Firstly, members of the public are encouraged to report sightings of butterflies and their predators by logging in to the website

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“We have had over 300 sightings so far this year,” said Jacqui. “We have helped people with information on wasps and aphids (the latter destroying plant quality), and can monitor which are the most important problems Monarch lovers face.”

Trust members tagged over 8,000 Monarchs last summer so that their flight-path to overwintering sites might be indicated.

“And this year we hope people in other parts of NZ will become more involved. We know that there are Monarchs on Stewart Island and in Kaikoura – but we need people tagging in those areas so we can find out where their butterflies overwinter.”

Tagging begins on 1 March – and the Trust would particularly welcome the participation of schools.

“The more we learn about Monarch behaviour in NZ, the more we can do to protect our insect life, so critical to the environment.”

Lepidopterist Brian Patrick is also monitoring NZ’s butterflies.

“While new butterflies are being discovered – especially in alpine regions which could be affected by global warming – butterflies at lower altitudes are being reduced as their habitat is degraded,” he said. “This means that more butterfly species are threatened.”

He said that no butterfly is safe.

“Even the supposedly widespread alpine species are threatened with loss of habitat through global warming and changes in farming management.”

More information can be found on the website, or by email to


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