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Vanessa gonerilla ida

Chatham Islands red admiral


Photo by Lloyd Esler

V. gonerilla ida is only found on the Chatham Islands (Rēkohu/Wharekauri). There are red admirals elsewhere in the world but this sub-species is found nowhere else. Its name in Te Reo is 'kahukura', meaning red cloak.

This is a medium-sized butterfly. Its host plant, Urtica australis, is common on the Chatham Islands, and the butterfly is fairly common.

Endemic - only found on the Chatham Islands group of islands.
Host Plant
The butterfly breeds on Urtica australis, the southern or Chatham Islands nettle.
Green, ribbed and barrel-shaped, generally laid singly on leaves of nettles.
Five instars.
Pupa about 20 mm.
Adult or Imago
Top of forewings mostly black with a central bright red bar running from front edge. White spots, fringed with light blue near tips of forewings. Hindwings are dark reddish brown, with a red patch containing four black circles. Centre of each circle is pale blue. Underside of hindwings cryptic. Underside of forewings has blue eyespot bracketed by red and white arcs.
45-58 mm wingspan. The wing shape is smoother and more rounded than V. gonerilla gonerilla and it is more orange than red.
Overwinter as adults. Long-lived, surviving up to six months (summer) and nine months (overwintering).
Very common over summer. Its host plant grows wild all over the islands.

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