Rare for­est but­ter­fly found thriv­ing on is­land

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - NI­COLE LAW­TON

A rare na­tive but­ter­fly, whose num­bers were in se­vere de­cline, has been found ‘‘thriv­ing’’ on Lit­tle Bar­rier Is­land.

Sev­eral sight­ings of the for­est ringlet but­ter­fly on the is­land re­cently sur­prised ex­perts.

Moths and But­ter­flies Trust spokesper­son Jac­qui Knight said it had done an ex­ten­sive sur­vey of New Zealand lo­ca­tions where the for­est ringlet could be found.

‘‘So we’re ab­so­lutely de­lighted to think that it’s some­where we’ve never heard of be­fore,’’ Knight said.

The dis­tinc­tive or­ange, black, white and yel­low but­ter­fly was spot­ted five times in one day on the is­land - lead­ing the but­ter­fly author­ity to say it ’’ap­pears to be thriv­ing’’.

Knight said it was once wide­spread through­out New Zealand’s forests, but high num­bers of in­tro­duced pests meant num­bers de­clined.

‘‘It has been a long time since the rare but­ter­fly was seen in the Auck­land and Welling­ton re­gions.’’

The Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion hailed the sight­ings as pos­si­bly the ‘‘most sig­nif­i­cant’’ event for the Hau­raki Gulf is­land in five years.

The species is only found in New Zealand and has no close rel­a­tives.

MELISSA HUTCHI­SON

The for­est ringlet is not found any­where else in the world.

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