Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Let’s save the native butterflies

Do you know that many New Zealanders think that ‘butterflies’ equate to ‘monarchs’? That there are only two species of butterfly in NZ: the monarch and the cabbage white?

The Moths and Butterflies of NZ Trust is determined to change all that by ensuring New Zealand’s ecosystems support thriving moth and butterfly populations. Ninety-three percent of New Zealand’s native butterflies and moths are unique to Aotearoa! They are found nowhere else in the world – if they die out, they can never be reintroduced.

The family of copper butterflies is a great example. They are native to NZ whereas the monarch and cabbage white butterflies are not.

“Some native butterflies are already teetering on the edge of survival,” says Brian Patrick, MBNZT’s Biodiversity advisor.

“There’s a tiny purple copper butterfly which now exists only in one coastal carpark in the South Island.

It needs our protection but firstly it needs to be identified!”

Butterflies need to thrive so that they can continue their important work as pollinators, food for birds and to brighten our summers.

“Sadly, successive governments have invested too little in research and taxonomy, the naming of species,” says Angela Moon-Jones, who is spearheading a campaign to save our butterflies. “We are far behind most other countries of the world.

“We have a chance to change this, but we need the support of caring New Zealanders to save our precious butterflies,” says Angela. “We are so grateful that we have some wonderful sponsors and supporters already.”

The Moths and Butterflies of NZ Trust is campaigning to raise funds for DNA research into identifying copper butterflies and understanding their habitats. For more information: www.nzbutterflies.org.nz/project/butterfly-discovery-project/

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