New Member on NZ Admirals

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  • #12840

    Terry
    Participant

    HellO! I am a lepidopterist from the UK who is very interested in the Butterflies of New Zealand, in fact I have a small butterfly house in which for the last 10 years I have been breeding Yellow Admirals(Bassaris Itea), my original Stock came from the Christchurch area and were sent to another Lepidopterist in the UK for scientific research. I have also bred the New Zealand Red Admiral (Bassaris Gonerilla)"definitely the most beautiful of the worlds admirals", in captivity but not over such a long period. I visited New Zealand briefly in January 1993 and was amazed how few butterflies I actualy encountered and how difficult I found it to find Stinging Nettles. In the UK stinging nettles are so common that you only have to walk to the nearest road verge to find many patches growing. I know the nettle species you have are different but I did not realise how hard to find they are! Was I just visiting the wrong areas, Auckland & Mangahwai heads, or are nettles quite rare in NZ. Do you have the perennial Stinging nettle (Urtica Dioica)in NZ? I know that the Small Nettle (Urtica Urens) was accidently introduced! Any information would be greatly appreciated! One species other than the Small White Butterflies I saw in plentiful supply was the Monarch especially around the Papatoetoe area and many of the Swan Plants I saw had been stripped bare by the larvae. Other species seen were Common Copper, Grass Blue, 1 Yellow Admiral and many Long Tailed Blues at Mangawhai heads flying around Gorse bushes. Please keep up the good work at the Monarch Trust, NZ has few butterflies but what it does have are very unique and well worth preserving.

Viewing 25 replies - 26 through 50 (of 83 total)
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  • #16471

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi Norm

    How I wish I could come to NZ now, knowing that there is someone over there who knows about the Forest Ringlet. When I last visited NZ in 1992 I couldn’t find anyone who new anything much about Butterflies. It would be great if you could start a breeding programme for this species to increase the knowledge of it’s life cycle and how to keep stock going in captivity. The good thing about NZ is that it has few species so you don’t get distracted if you decide to study a particular one. Over here in the UK we have access to about 50 residents and many others from all over the world including the tropics, so it is so tempting to want everything and learn nothing. If you check out my previous posts on this site you will see my other interests butterfly wise.
    Have you tried breeding any other NZ species other than the Admirals.
    Have you checked out my breeding Yellow Admiral document on http://bitbybit.co.nz/business/files/YlwAd.pdf
    I would be interested in any feedback from you including any critical analysis, I am always willing to be told I have got it wrong. All good information helps me to learn more! The photos of my butterfly house should be appearing on the new Monarch Trust Website in the future.
    Good luck with the Kershawi, I have never seen a live one in NZ but they are very similar to our Cardui.
    One last question for now! How easy is it to find the Nettles, Ferox, Urens, and Incisa, where you live and does Dioica really grow in NZ or do people mistake another species for it. Oh! and have you ever seen Urtica Australis that is supposed to grow in Southland?

    #16470

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    Hi Terry,
    Looks like we are on much the same wavelength – great. Have caught and observed the Forest ringlet by the Whakapapa stream which runs adjacent to the Chateau at National Park – Mt. Ruapehu and along a bush track which runs away from the stream for 4 – 5 kms. The habitat is beech forest and general bush country, and the butterfly frequents the upper canopy and makes visits to the forest floor and sunlit glades looking for the sedge host plant. Observed them sunning themselves on lower vegetation, and on one occasion from a distance one that appeared to be ovipositing. However after crossing a small gully and up the other side I wasn’t sure which sedge it was. One hour of scrutiny failed to find any ova. When disturbed they dart back up to the canopy. Nectar flowers seem to be a variety of native trees in flower, with kamahi stated as being a favourite. The flight season is said to be 1 month or less, and my sightings would agree with this, I have observed them from early Jan to early Feb. A trip in mid Feb failed to find any. However at the Waihi area I have observed them in mid Feb. The larvae rather than the butterfly overwinters, apparently feeding until the 2nd or 3rd instar, and when the cold sets in thay migrate to the base of the sedge to overwinter, coming out of diapause around September ( spring ) to continue. This makes a 1 year life cycle,and in some areas could be a 2 year cycle. The bush tracks at National Park are covered in snow during winter,which makes it all the more amazing. Have not found any larvae, and would probably need to visit the area somewhat earlier. Thanks for the info regarding the Cynthia kershawi as it is known here – I can put it to good use if they arrive from Aussie this year – usually mid Oct / Nov.I know the sites to find them and already have several types of the host plant growing.
    Regards – Norm.

    #16469

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi again Norm
    I am really interested in what you know about the Forest Ringlet, I have been informed that there is little research into this species and you are the first person I have heard from who has any info on them. please could you tell me about the type of habitat, areas they fly in, what hight they fly at, what they nectar on and what times of the year. have you ever found the ova and larvae in the wild? And as for your plan to breed Kershawi, this should be easy as they have such a wide variety of foodplants to choose from. Our Version in the UK Cardui is easy in captivity on Lavertera so if you grow this in NZ you could try it although your species may not like it!
    The hardest part if you wish to keep Kershawi over winter is the cold short days, but I found that the Imagines of Cardui will pair in a small cage if you give them long day lengths under artificial lights and will then give you fertile winter ova.

    #16468

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi Norm
    I am so pleased to know that someone over in NZ is already studying the Red and Yellow Admirals, I am very interested in what you have said about the Reds Ovipositing on Urtica Urens, It just goes to prove that these so called experts who write about these species make bold assumptions without enough study. I have read that the Yellow Admiral overwinters as an Imagine but my own research has found that the majority of my captive stock overwinter as small larvae very similar to our European Red Admiral. No doubt some Imagines come through the Winter but not as many as Larvae. Also I find very few Yellow Admiral Larvae that thrive on Pellitory but The European Red loves it.
    I have also read reports from Lepidopterists who have visited the Canary Islands looking for Vanessa Vulcania and Vanessa Atalanta who say that the latter also prefers Pellitory and the former Stinging Nettles this is different to earlier reports again from so called experts.
    Even though I have now Bred my captive Yellow Admirals for 10 years from the same line, I can honestly say that I still have so much more to learn about them. I still find every aspect of their behavior and life stages facinating.
    I am very interested on hearing from you about any other traits you have noticed from these two species. I will write another post about The Forest Ringlet but as I need to be Working at this time I had better do some work before I get in to trouble.

    #16467

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    Continuation – oops, inadvertantly hit the wrong button.
    so I never did find out if they bred, and I have not been able to re establish contact with the owner. Does anyone out there know if the Nikau Butterfly Gardens is still open to the public ? Over the past 5 years I bred the Red & Yellow admirals in my butterfly house throughout the winter months, and released them on fine days once they had oviposited. Interestingly the Reds oviposited on the Urtica urens, and the Yellows on the Ongaonga. I had also observed the Reds in the field ovipositing on Urtica urens while out collecting the plants. Having now moved from Palmerston North to Whakatane and set up another butterfly house my ambition is to breed the Painted lady and try the Forest ringlet, although I suspect the conditions are somewhat more specific.
    Norm.

    #16466

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    Hi Terry,
    Have recently joined the forums and noticed your query re. sightings of the Forest ringlet ( Dodonidia helmsii ) Over the years of collecting lepidoptera I have observed and caught the forest ringlet in the National Park area and also Waihi. Several years ago I caught 9 forest ringlets and delivered them to Nikau Butterfly Gardens in Paraparaumu, where they were released into the large commercial Butterfly House which had the sedge Ghania pauciflora growing, the host plant for the larvae, in the hope they would breed. I was unable to establish contact with the then owner after a period

    #16446

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    I’d like to see them too, please Terry!

    Jacqui

    #16436

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi Wings1

    Yes I have photos of my butterfly house. I will send you photos to your email address, but am unsure where they are on my computer, I will find and send ASAP.

    #16434

    hi Terry
    do you have any pics of your butterfly house?
    Angie

    #16419

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Hello Ange

    The Yellow Admiral paper is here:

    http://bitbybit.co.nz/business/files/YlwAd.pdf

    Best way I could think of of uploading it, as it was a big file.

    Cheers

    Jacqui

    #16411

    VickySteele
    Participant

    Hi Terry and Wings – I will try and get some photos of the Yellow Admirals at the Monarch site – the only reason I saw them was because if was a warm day and they were flying. I imagine they would be pretty hard to spot otherwise. There were large numbers of Conifer and Totara trees where they were – and nothing much else around so I don’t imagine they were just passing through. Although I’m curious to know if they’re still there!

    #16409

    Terry found a link to the paper, but please feel free to email any other information. Angie

    #16408

    Hi Terry
    I would love to see the Yellow Admiral paper and any breeding info you talked about some time ago in this forum. ange_nz@yahoo.com
    Angie

    #16406

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi Everyone
    That is very interesting about the Yellow admirals overwintering amongst the Monarch clusters. Has anyone seen the Red Admirals do this. Our Admirals in the Northern hemisphere don’t do this as far as I know, but my Captive stock of Yellow Admirals Just sit on the Butterfly house top netting, however when I had some NZ Red admiral Adults to overwinter 2 years ago they used to roost inside Kitchen towel tubes that I placed in my Lantana tree on cold nights. I did this because some of them decided that the Paraffin heater tubes were a nice hole to roost in and got burned alive, however the tubes in the tree worked as a good alternative and saved lives.
    If you build a small cage and place Muehlenbeckia in trays within, you will find it very easy to breed huge numbers of the Copper species, this method works well for our small Copper, and the Large copper in Europe. Always remember to provide plenty of nectar for the Imagine stage and they will pair and lay eggs easily.

    #16402

    Vicky – I am really interested in what you have written about the YA, i will keep any eye out. Doyou have any photos of the YA wintering?

    GillianPaterson – i have mine in pots and have a small unit with a small garden in Auckland. You will find that if the butterflies find it will will keep it well trimmed.

    Jacqui you have done a great job of getting nettle grown!

    A plant that people can grow for our native copper butterflies is: Muehlenbeckia

    Angie

    #16400

    VickySteele
    Participant

    This post could possibly go under Over Wintering sites as well – but has anyone else noticed Admirals at Monarch overwintering sites? I have seen quite a few – Yellow Admirals – at the sites I visited in May. Not as numerous as the Monarchs, but at one site in particular I saw about 30 YA’s amongst the orange.

    #16396

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Wow!

    Yes, Terry, this confirms what I believe – tha tOngaonga shouldn’t be in the Guinness BOok of records.

    Hope you’re well.

    Jacqui

    #16384

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi Jacqui

    I think this is far more dangerous than Ferox, see link

    http://www.anhs.com.au/stinging%20tree.htm

    There is an Australian Butterfly that feeds on it but the name escapes me at the moment! I will post the name when it comes back to me or I will cheat and find it on the web.

    #16383

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Hi everyone.

    The Urtica ferox is not as dangerous as people make out. My next step is to write to the Guinness Book of Records and ask them why they’ve given it such a bad name. Have you read my post about it elsewhere in the forum? Dogs are more dangerous than U. ferox, and we know how to cope with dogs, don’t we!

    Good to read all these posts.

    Jacqui

    #16382

    Terry
    Participant

    Hello Dee and Gillian

    The organic gardner is very sensible to dig the Urtica urens in to his garden as it is a well known Nitrogen fixer it stores nitrogen in it’s root system.
    I do not live in New Zealand I live in the UK near Guildford in Surrey, I visited NZ in 1992 January, but only the North Island, I became interested in NZ butterflies because you have so few species and the ones you do have are so facinating and as with the Admirals are obviously related to the Vannesids found in the rest of the world.
    Dee, You are very fortunate in Dunedin to have lots of Yellow Admirals flying around. it can only mean that the environmental damage in your part of the country is not as severe as elsewhere. I would like to visit the South Island of NZ at some time as I have been informed that it is far more unspoilt than the North island.
    If I was fortunate enough to have the chance to live Over there I would probably try to Start breeding the Forest ringlet in captivity as I know this species is very endangered and needs all the help it can get. It is also a very interesting species with its strange wing shape and colours.

    #16381

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Terry,
    Yes I saw a Red Admiral in my garden here in Hawkes Bay this summer, they are beautiful. Much as I would like to grow Urtica Ferox, my garden is now very big and I think it would be a bit dangerous. I will try to get some of the other nettle for the Yellow Admirals. I had unknown caterpillars feeding on cineraria for a couple of years – not last summer. It is difficult to identify caterpillars. Do you live in NZ now and if so, where? Hear hear to your comments about pesticide, herbicide gardening. I also think it a bit sad that so many gardens now are manicured so as to be labour saving and “modern”. Gillian

    #16380

    dee
    Participant

    In Kakanui the organic gardener across the road from us grows a lot of urtica urens and digs it in the garden as fertilizer hence we have always got lots of Yellow Admirals flying around and yes they also chase my Monarchs
    Only saw very few Red Admirals this year so have shared my seed of urita ferox with market gardener and we are both going to try and grow some and hopefully get a few more Red Admirals
    There is quite a lot of urtica ferox on the Dunedin Penisular
    Nothing around here just at present though as we are having a proper winter, the first for a few years so it will be interesting to see how many of my Ascelepeas survive these frosts
    I can’t keep them all covered

    #16379

    Terry
    Participant

    Hello Gillian, Thank you for your interesting post. As a newcomer to New Zealand could I ask you if you have seen any NZ Red Admirals yet and have you noticed how beautiful they are compared to the European Red Admiral. I have bred the NZ Red Admiral in captivity in the UK and had the two flying together in my Butterfly house along with my NZ Yellow Admirals. I have also bred the Canary (indian) Red Admiral as well.
    There is nothing wrong in killing and setting specimens if they are used for research but Killing is unnecessary if you only want to admire the specimens and with a good digital camera you get superb quality photos anyway.
    The west coast of Scotland is in some ways better than parts of England these days due to the massive environmental damage caused by overpopulation and the concreting over of much of the country for roads and housing. Farmers seem to get much of the blame but they are no worse offenders than the idiot public with their garden strimmers and Herbicides and pesticides, I often wonder why we don’t just put Astroturf across the whole country as most gardens are so sterile and tidy that no wildlife can survive in them anyway. The good news with Monarchs in NZ is that they rely on people to grow the foodplants for the larvae as Milkweeds are not found naturaly in the wild, so keep up the good work!

    #16377

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi, I have joined this topic because I got a packet of urtica ferox seeds after I paid my subscription and really feel my garden is too small to plant this nettle (much as I would like to have Red Admirals breeding here). Would anyone like the packet of seeds, I would be happy to post them. It was interesting to read what you wrote Terri and someone else who was born in England. I only came to NZ 5 years ago. When I was quite young (about 10 or 11) I got interested in raising caterpillars and collecting butterflies and moths in Sussex. I used to go around with a butterfly net and a killing bottle and then go home and set the dead creatures on a special board!!! Imagine doing that nowadays. Later as an adult in Scotland I loved watching the Tortoiseshells breeding, pupating and hatching on the abundant nettles (nettle soup with young nettles is delicious). I was thrilled to be able to start again 60 years on with monarchs, but with a different emphasis this time. Gillian

    #16357

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Angie

    You will see in the subscriptions we have just sent out with the June newsletter, that I have seeds of Urtica ferox (Ongaonga) and also U. dioica to those who subscribe and request it before the seed runs out. This is courtesy of Oratia Native Plant Centre.

    So make sure you “tick” this box on your sub. form!!!

    Cheers

    Jacqui

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