New Zealand Butterflies

New Zealand has only 23 species of butterflies. This is probably due to its isolation – it’s difficult for butterflies to colonize remote islands. And 11 of the species are endemic – they live nowhere else.

We saw two of the endemic species – a Red Admiral, and a Copper.

Here’s the Red Admiral (Bassaris gonerilla gonerilla). It looks similar to the North American Red Admiral, and its caterpillars also eat stinging nettles.

Here are 3 photos of a Copper butterfly (Lycaena sp.). Genetic studies have shown that there are a number of species that all look alike. These Coppers live in coastal areas and their caterpillars eat Muehlenbeckia or Rumex plants.

These next 2 butterflies are native to New Zealand, but are also found in Australia or other nearby areas.

Common Blue (Zizina labradus labradus)

Yellow Admiral (Bassaris itea)

underside of Yellow Admiral

There are lots of Monarchs in New Zealand – Monarchs wander widely and have been seen there since the mid-1800s. They started breeding there after early British settlers brought milkweed with them to plant as a garden flower.

The most common butterflies we saw were Cabbage Whites which probably came to the country on vegetables, and have become widespread pests.

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

And here’s a common day flying moth called a Magpie Moth (Nyctemera annulata).