Australian Butterfly Crosses the Tasman

As so often happens at this time of year, Australian butterflies are being found in New Zealand gardens. The butterflies cross the Tasman on high, tropical stormclouds and will live out the rest of their lives supping nectar in our flowers.

A visitor to one Blockhouse Bay garden was /Danaus chrysippus/, related to the Monarch butterfly.

“I found a caterpillar similar to a Monarch on my milkweed,” said Jacqui Knight who is also the secretary of the Monarch Butterfly Trust. “In Australia they’re known as the ‘Lesser Wanderer’ while in Asia it is known as the ‘Tiger’.

She is hopeful that other people will find more caterpillars, as eggs were probably laid on other plants nearby.

“The butterflies, which do not have any adverse effect on New Zealand’s biodiversity, can smell milkweed from two kilometres away” she said. “The caterpillars are striking – bands of black and white interspersed with thick, yellow spots. There are also three pairs of long, black horn-like appendages while the head has alternating black and white semicircular bands.”

Anyone finding the butterflies or caterpillars are urged to contact the Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust on 09 551 3383.


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