The endemic forest ringlet (Dodonidia helmsii), also known as Helms' butterfly, is the only butterfly in its genus, and it is only found in NZ. According to the scientific community, its future is seriously at risk. The aim of this project is to prevent extinction.
Over the past decade this iconic and beautiful butterfly has retreated from Auckland and Wellington regions and other areas of native habitat. No-one knows why it is in decline. Today it is only found in remote regions. Scientists do not have the capability or the funds to research why it is disappearing.
The forest ringlet was first described by Richard William Fereday from a specimen collected in the Paparoa Range of the South Island by a R. Helms of Greymouth. The species was properly named in 1884 by Arthur Gardiner Butler, who coined the genus Dodonidia, from its resemblance to the Asian Dodona butterflies
In 2016 the MBNZT engaged Steve Wheatley, an entomologist from Britain, to undertake a four-month project researching the species in NZ to collate what was known about the butterfly. Read Steve Wheatley's detailed report, 2016.
Beautiful photos thanks to Zac Warren, 2019 and Michael Reid.