Rare forest butterfly found thriving on island
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.
The forest ringlet is not found anywhere else in the world.