Introduction

Keen butterfly hunters have had a good hit against Nelson’s pest great white butterfly population, taking out 134 butterflies during the school holidays to earn a $10 bounty for each one.

Date:  14 October 2013

Keen butterfly hunters have had a good hit against Nelson’s pest great white butterfly population, taking out 134 butterflies during the school holidays to earn a $10 bounty for each one.

The Department of Conservation offered the $10 reward for the dead butterflies over the past two weeks to encourage children and others to help it knock back a spring great white butterfly breeding surge. 

DOC staff’s spring crackdown on the pest butterfly population has also removed 165 butterflies, 4650 individual caterpillars and 532 egg clusters since late August.

DOC is attempting to eradicate the great white butterfly in Nelson Tasman and stop it spreading to other parts of New Zealand. The butterfly poses a major threat to endangered native cresses and home and commercial brassica crops, including crops to feed farm cattle and sheep.

DOC Great White Butterfly Project Manager Bruce Vander Lee said he was delighted at how many in the community had taken part in the butterfly bounty hunt with in all 337 individuals or groups, both adults and children, bringing in white butterflies.

‘Many thanks from DOC to everyone who helped us out with catching great white butterflies.

‘It was hard for many people to tell the difference between the great white butterflies and small white butterflies so not surprisingly a lot more of the more numerous small white butterflies were handed in – 3417 in total.  

‘We wanted to see them though to check they were not great white butterflies and those catching them have gone in a draw to win spot prizes.

‘We are also very grateful to Nelson householders reporting finds of the butterfly’s caterpillars and eggs and supporting our field team’s intensive searching of gardens. With up to 25 staff working each day, we have carried out more than 5100 garden searches so far this spring.

‘The butterfly’s spring breeding burst is likely to continue for a few months so  we still need the Nelson community’s  help to find caterpillars and eggs and kill butterflies. Caterpillars and eggs should be reported to the Ministry for Primary Industries hotline 0800 80 99 66.

‘We’re pleased at the high numbers of butterflies, caterpillars and eggs being intercepted and removed. At this stage though it is too early in our eradication programme, started just under a year ago, to fully assess the extent of our impact on the pest butterfly population.’

DOC’s $10 butterfly bounty was only available during the past two weeks’ school holidays which coincided with the peak period for butterflies emerging from pupae.  Bruce Vander Lee said the bounty was only set for a limited time to avoid people breeding butterflies to get the bounty.

Contact

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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