Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Nelson butterfly bounty hunters have so far netted 47 great white butterflies, scooping a $10 reward for each dead butterfly.

Date:  07 October 2013

Nelson butterfly bounty hunters have so far netted 47 great white butterflies, scooping a $10 reward for each dead butterfly.

The more numerous small white butterflies are proving easier to track down with 947 of these also handed in to the Department of Conservation in the first week of a two-week school holiday $10 bounty on great white butterflies.

DOC staff want dead small white butterflies handed in to double check they are not great white butterflies. Those bringing them in have their names go into a draw to win spot prizes.

Great white butterflies and small white butterflies.
This photo shows the differences between great white butterflies and small white butterflies. At left, great white butterflies and, at right, small white butterflies; females at top and males at bottom. 

DOC has put the bounty on the pest great white butterfly to help its programme to eradicate the butterfly in Nelson Tasman and stop it spreading elsewhere in New Zealand. The great white butterfly poses a major threat to home and commercial brassica crops and endangered native cresses.

With female great white butterflies able to lay as many as 750 eggs, every one killed potentially stops up to another 750 butterflies emerging.

DOC Great White Butterfly Project Manager Bruce Vander Lee said 124 individuals or groups, both adults and children, had last week handed in butterflies.

‘We are pleased so many in the community have joined in the butterfly hunt and we are grateful for their help. Each great white butterfly caught and killed is helping us in trying to beat a spring butterfly breeding peak.

‘The $10 reward for each of the dead great white butterflies is for us money well spent.   

‘The butterfly bounty hunters are also providing useful information on where butterflies occur in Nelson.’

DOC advises butterfly hunters to look for great white butterflies in parks or other public areas or only at places of people searchers know who have given their permission.

Tips for catching the bandit butterflies include:

  • The best time to find the butterflies is between 10am and 12pm on sunny days with little wind.  
  • The butterflies are especially attracted to large patches of flowering brassica plants on sunny, warm slopes, particularly red-flowering valerian, nasturtium and wild growing brassicas such as radishes and turnips.
  • Parks with flowers are good butterfly hunting grounds, such as Anzac Park and Fairfield Park. 

Dead butterflies should be put in a jar or sealed plastic bag and stored in the freezer so they don’t go mouldy before they can be handed in to DOC.

The dead butterflies need to be taken to DOC’s Nelson District Office, Monro Building, 186 Bridge St, Nelson between 8.30am and 4.30pm on weekdays with this Friday, 11 October, the last day for collecting the $10 reward.

Householders are also asked to support the butterfly eradication programme by looking for great white butterfly eggs and caterpillars clustered on plants it favours including nasturtium, honesty and brassica vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli. Any found should be reported to the Ministry for Primary Industries hotline 0800 80 99 66.

The tiny, yellow eggs are found in clusters of 30 to 100. Young caterpillars are also tiny and are yellowish with a shiny black head. The larger caterpillars are speckled greenish-yellow and black with three yellow lines along their bodies and they grow to about 50 mm in length.


Bruce Vander Lee, Project Manager, Nelson District Office, +64 3 546 3189

Trish Grant, DOC Communications Advisor, +64 3 546 3146

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