Date: 02 May 2013
More than 200 great white butterfly infestations were found and removed in Nelson Tasman last month – more than double those detected in March - as intensive efforts continue to beat an autumn spike in butterfly breeding.
Great white butterfly eradication programme field staff, numbering around 20 at a time, carried out around 5200 garden searches in April looking for the butterfly’s caterpillars and eggs. The escalated search effort will be kept up during May.
Great white butterfly caterpillars
Department of Conservation Motueka Area Manager Martin Rodd said the success of the DOC-led programme to eradicate the great white butterfly in Nelson Tasman hinged on knocking back this autumn butterfly breeding spurt with the help of local residents.
‘The number of finds of great white caterpillars and eggs was well up in April from 88 in March. We are finding more in part because we have more field staff searching and also because there are more infestations with this breeding surge.
‘Our field teams can’t get everywhere so we are counting on local people looking for clusters of great white butterfly caterpillars and eggs on garden plants and reporting any found to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) hotline 0800 80 99 66.
‘Public reports enable us to remove the eggs and caterpillars before they become butterflies and breed and multiply. Female butterflies can lay as many as 750 eggs so we have to get in first and prevent that if we can.
‘In April mostly eggs and tiny young caterpillars were found. Now the caterpillars are larger and easier for householders to spot which is leading to more calls coming in reporting these which we are very glad to get.
‘These larger caterpillars are speckled black and greyish-green with three yellow lines along their bodies. Fully grown caterpillars are around 50 mm in length and have lots of pale hairs.
People are asked to report patches of wild and unmanaged nasturtium to DOC’s Nelson office, ph +64 3 546 9335 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Communications Advisor, DOC Nelson Marlborough Conservancy
Ph: +64 3 546 3146