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Lepidopterist at Large

25 February 2023

Over the summer Brian Patrick has been tripping around the South Island looking for butterflies and moths. Here are some of the notes he has made:

Tues 3 Jan

I’m with Brian Lyford in field on way up to Awakino ski field in North Otago on perfect day! Coppers and NZ blues abundant at site of photograph. Have a wonderful 2023!


Glade, boulder and common coppers here together with NZ blue and tussock butterflies below ski field and in abundance.

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Fri 6 Jan

I’m at road’s end at Jackson Bay on West Coast checking out local coppers. Common and glade coppers abundant so far on my travels down coast: wonderful biodiversity here and not too many visitors in contrast to Queenstown where it was too hectic!


Weather mproving but warm and calm so good for our butterflies… Weather perfect now following heavy rain. Common coppers and blues flying!

Major discovery here at Neils Beach, Jackson Bay - new southern limit for long-tailed blue butterfly here! Feeding on nectar on coast in calm sunshine.


A new large common copper here too! This area has been under researched.

Sat 7 Jan

Undescribed boulder copper locally common on small area of river bed below Franz Josef Glacier with its larval hostplant, mat Pohuehue also abundant: Aussie blues also common but sadly the new day-flying daphne moth I found here in 1998 is gone as no hostplant Pimelea surviving. Needs area survey as no other known sites for this gorgeous Notoreas new species: Weather perfect.

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Fri 13 Jan

Still travelling and meeting neat people and introducing them to butterflies around them! This Canterbury common copper was abundant at Waihi Gorge inland from Geraldine and met family from Dunedin who were intrigued by them!

I’ll send a photo of one on a girl’s finger next: Williams family - father Shannon is school teacher in Dunedin and trained marine biologist who studied Hookers sealion at Otago University.

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Sat 14 Jan

Now in the Ashburton Gorge in warm, misty weather with common copper on yarrow flowers in foreground and larval hostplant Pohuehue climbing over another rich hostplant for our Lepidoptera - the small leaved Olearia lineata; paradise for me with Coprosma species abundant and even lichen-covered rockfaces. These sorts of habitats are so rich in our endemic Lepidoptera.


Tues 24 Jan

Five undescribed common coppers on roadside flowers in Ashley Gorge in my recent travels; great to see so many with much Pohuehue nearby for their caterpillars.


Sun 29 Jan

At Rangitata River mouth huts where NZ blues and yellow admirals abound! Hot day here. I’m on my way to meet up with fellow entomologists Brian Lyford from Queenstown and Bill Chisholm from Manapouri at Lake Ohau where we’ll explore a few of the surrounding alpine areas for black mountain butterfly and tussock ringlets.


Tues 31 Jan

Brian and I really enjoying wonderful day on mountain: ski field at Lake Ohau is good balance of biodiversity and recreation resulting in lots of biodiversity: black butterflies, day-flying geometrids of several genera and tussock butterflies all abundant. Weather calm and warm so great day to be here!



Wed 1 Feb

Image of mat Pohuehue on shore of Lake Ohau with abundant boulder coppers over it; Road on Ohau Range to ski field in background


Fri 3 Feb

We’re on Mount Dobson ski field now checking out diurnal moths and alpine butterflies.

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Wonderful mountain with great facilities and amazing butterfly and moth fauna with alpine flora!


Here’s Paranotoreas ferox, a diurnal geometrid - the striped orange underwing: uncommon species here at 1780m on Epilobium flowers along with black butterflies.


Many diurnal moths flying here up to 1850m altitude: here’s one of the three daphne moths flying; Notoreas, Aponotoreas and Dasyuris flying along with black and boulder copper and tussock butterflies along with Orocrambus grass moths! A Lepidopterist’s paradise!


Sat 4 Feb

In addition to gorgeous black butterflies, we’ve found many diurnal moths on Mt Dobson above 1720m; here’s Notoreas galaxias and Asaphodes clarata.

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We are at Fox Peak ski area now in perfect conditions; tussock butterflies and diurnal moths abound!


Some diurnal Lepidoptera from alpine area at Fox Peak on perfect day: underside of Dasyuris anceps, Janita’s tussock and Aponotoreas insignis.

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Sun 5 Feb

Now exploring inland Mid Canterbury - Lake Lyndon Road with Lake Coleridge in backdrop: two species of tussock butterfly and common coppers flying with diurnal moths Paranotoreas brephosata and Aponotoreas insignis: wonderful landscape and biota here.


Mon 6 Feb

Today at Porters Pass with lots of tussock butterflies; boulder copper Lycaena spp. and diurnal moths Aponotoreas insignis and Notoreas simplex from above pass to 1450m on hot day; at 650-800m. So many common coppers on yarrow flowers by track; amazing to see tens of them courting and feeding.

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Sat 11 Feb

I’m out again this time at Porters Pass one of the few passes over the Southern Alps; it’s hot and calm with tussock ringlets Argyrophenga antipodum and Canterbury common Copper Lycaena new species both abundant to 1050m taking nectar from flowers; lots of interested members of public watching me and asking good questions:

I’ve given out MBNZT brochures to several prospective members too: glorious summer day in the mountains; many have been intrigued to hear that the South Island is the 16th largest landmass on the planet and the tenth highest and that nine species of endemic butterflies live and breed in the mountains around here!


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