Kiwi Gardener

yellow admirals


The yellow admiral (V. itea) or kahukowhai, a species which we share with Australia and nearby Pacific Islands, is slightly smaller than the red – but just as delightful. It is probably more common than the red because it is happy to use any species of nettle and can be found on farms or city gardens where common nettle (U. dioica) has become a weed. And each year when tropical cyclones arrive here, bringing migrant and vagrant butterflie­s from Australia, some of the yellow admirals we see will have come across the Tasman.

chatham islands red admiral

On the Chatham Islands there is a sub-species of red admiral, V. gonerilla ssp. ida. With this butterfly there is a subtle difference in the colour and shape of the hindwing. The red patch is wider and the hindwing more rounded, without the scalloping.

The host plant here is another endemic species of nettle, U. australis – the Chatham Islands nettle/southern nettle. This particular plant has adapted very well to life on the North and South Islands, which is fortunate as the leaves can be the size of dinner plates and it is easy to breed butterflie­s using this plant. Seeds and plants are available from the Moths and Butterflie­s of NZ Trust (www.nzbutterfl­

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand