JoinDonateMy Account

Argyrophenga antipodum

Common tussock
Photo by Chris Rickards

The three endemic species of tussock butterflies are all restricted to the South Island. Their nearest relatives live in Australia.

The common tussock is the most widespread species, occurring throughout eastern and southern South Island from Marlborough to Southland; at low to mid altitude - they are not an alpine species. The species is characterised by an absence of any lines of brown scales across the colour patches.

Sexual dimorphism is extreme in this species where the male orange wing patches are much darker than females. They have a slow, floppy flight in open areas where the tussocks/grasses dominate.

Overwintering has not been researched but is likely to be with half-grown caterpillars sheltering in the base of the tussocks (i.e. the same as forest ringlet).

Host Plant
Feeds on various native grasses and tussocks.
Barrel-shaped, 15-18 vertical ribs. About six days.
Variable colours, up to 30 mm.
Variable in colour, more so than other tussock butterflies. 12-18 days.
Adult or Imago
Absence of brown scales (line) along the veins where they cross the patches of colour on the upperside. Female paler than male. Flight is weak, almost hopping. Flashes wings when disturbed.
30-45 mm, male larger than female.
Not yet researched, likely to be with half-grown caterpillars sheltering at the base of tussocks.
Grassland, east coast of the South Island, from sea level to 2000 m.

Sign up for our free e-news

Be kept posted about our special offers, events and news weekly. Better yet, become a financial member of the MBNZT