NZ Butterflies

The true butterflies or Papilionidea are divided into five families, as shown here:

The five families of true butterflies
The five families of true butterflies

Only the Lycaenidae (Blue & Copper Butterflies) and Nymphalidae (Brush-Footed Butterflies) are native to New Zealand. The White Butterfly or Cabbage White arrived in the 1930s which means that three families are now resident here. Attempts to control the Cabbage White have had a detrimental effect on our native butterflies.  Unfortunately in May 2010 a number of larvae of Large White cabbage butterfly (Pieris brassicae) were found in Nelson. NZ Biosecurity is monitoring the situation and this may need to be added as yet another introduced and unwanted species.

The website nzbutterfly.info is a good source of information about the various species of butterflies found in New Zealand.  The following is provided as a quick guide.  Clicking on the common name will take you to the relevant page on nzbutterfly.info.

List of New Zealand Butterflies

*Occasional visitors from Australia are listed with an asterisk.

Nymphalidae – The Brush-Footed Butterflies
Common name Maori name Latin name Hostplant
Monarch Kahuku Danaus plexippus Milkweed (Asclepias and Gomphocarpus species) e.g. Swan Plant
Yellow Admiral Kahu Kowhai Bassaris itea Nettles (Urtica spp)
Red Admiral Kahu Kura Bassaris gonerilla gonerilla Urtica ferox, U. incisa, other nettles
Chatham Islands Red Admiral Kahu Kura Bassaris gonerilla ida Urtica ferox, U. incisa, other nettles
Tussock Ringlet (Common Tussock) Argyrophenga antipodum Tussocks (Chionochloa spp & Poa spp)
Tussock Butterfly (Harris’s Tussock) Argyrophenga harrisi Tussocks (Chionochloa spp & Poa spp)
Tussock Butterfly (Janita’s Tussock) Argyrophenga janitae Tussocks (Chionochloa spp)
Butler’s Ringlet Pepe Pouri Erebiola butleri uncertain!
Forest Ringlet Pepe Pouri Dodonidia helmsii Sedges (Gahnia spp), tussocks (Chionochloa spp)
Black Mountain Ringlet Pepe Pouri Percnodaimon merula Blue Tussock Grass (Poa colensoi)
*Australian Painted Lady Pepe Para Hua Cynthia kershawi Ammobium alatum
*Blue Moon Hypolimnas bolina nerina
*Lesser Wanderer Danaus chrysippus petilia Milkweed (Asclepias and Gomphocarpus species) e.g. Swan Plant
Lycaenidae – Blue & Copper Butterflies
Common name Maori name Latin name Hostplant
Common Blue Pepe Ao Uri Zizina labradus labradus clovers (Trifolium spp), trefoils (Lotus spp.)
Southern Blue Zizina labradus oxleyi clovers (Trifolium spp), trefoils (Lotus spp.)
Long-tailed Blue Lampides boeticus broom, gorse
Common Copper Pepe Para Riki Lycaena salustius Pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia spp).
Boulder Copper Pepe Para Riki Lycaena boldenarum Creeping Pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia axillaris) & Maori Dock – Runa (Rumex flexuosus)
Glade Copper Pepe Para Riki Lycaena feredayi Large-leafed Pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia australis)
Rauparaha’s Copper Mokarakare Lycaena rauparaha Pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia spp)
Pieridae – White and Sulphur Butterflies
Common name Maori name Latin name Hostplant
White Butterfly Pepe Ma Pieris rapae Brassicaceae or Cruciferae (Cabbage family)