30 Butterfly Species in New Zealand

Welcome to the beautiful and diverse world of butterflies in New Zealand!

In this article, you will discover 30 of the most unique and captivating butterfly species found across the country.

These delicate creatures not only grace the landscapes with their mesmerising colours and patterns, but also play a vital role in maintaining the balance and health of the ecosystem.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

The Monarch Butterfly is a well-known and beloved species, not only in New Zealand but also around the world.

Monarch Butterfly

Its striking appearance and fascinating lifecycle have captured the imaginations of many.

  • Habitat: Monarchs can be found in various environments, from open grasslands to forest edges and gardens.
  • Appearance: They are easily recognizable by their beautiful orange wings with black veins and white spots on the wing edges.
  • Size: Adult Monarchs typically have a wingspan of 8.9-10.2 cm.
  • Diet: The diet of adult Monarchs consists mainly of nectar from flowers. The caterpillars feed on milkweed leaves.
  • Reproduction: The female Monarchs lay their eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves, where the caterpillars can feed after hatching.
  • Lifespan: The entire Monarch lifecycle lasts around 6-8 weeks, with adults typically living 2-6 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Milkweed plants, part of the Asclepiadaceae family, are the primary host plants for Monarch caterpillars to feed on and grow into butterflies.

The Monarch Butterfly’s beauty and adaptability make it a cherished addition to New Zealand’s diverse ecosystem.

Many people plant milkweed in their gardens to help support the Monarch population and enjoy watching their miraculous transformation from caterpillar to butterfly.

Common Copper (Lycaena salustius)

The Common Copper is a beautiful and widespread butterfly species found across New Zealand.

Common Copper Butterfly/Lycaena salustius

This captivating creature displays interesting characteristics and life cycle that will surely catch your attention.

  • Habitat: Inhabiting a range of ecosystems, this butterfly flourishes in grasslands, coastal areas, and shrublands across the country.
  • Appearance: Males sport vivid orange wings with an intricate pattern of brown markings, while females have a subtler, browner hue with fainter orange coloration.
  • Size: The wingspan of a Common Copper typically ranges between 25-35mm, with females being slightly larger than males.
  • Diet: The diet predominantly consists of nectar from flowers and other sugary secretions present in the surroundings.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on the leaves of host plants, which serve as food for the caterpillars upon hatching.
  • Lifespan: An adult Common Copper butterfly enjoys a brief yet active life, with a lifespan averaging one month.
  • Host Plants: The larvae consume the leaves of plants belonging to the Oxalis, Muehlenbeckia, and Oenothera families.

By understanding more about the enchanting Common Copper butterfly, you become better acquainted with the fascinating biodiversity within New Zealand.

Rauparaha’s Copper (Lycaena rauparaha)

Rauparaha’s Copper is a fascinating butterfly species native to New Zealand.

Rauparaha's Copper butterfly

Named after the Maori chief Te Rauparaha, this colorful and intriguing insect presents unique characteristics that distinguish it from other species.

  • Habitat: Rauparaha’s Copper is found predominantly in coastal regions, dunes, and areas with native grasses. They show a preference for open spaces where their host plants are easily accessible.
  • Appearance: This butterfly boasts beautiful, coppery-orange wings, with a unique black pattern on the edges. The undersides of their wings exhibit subtle patterns that mimic grasses, providing effective camouflage.
  • Size: Its size varies between 22 to 25mm, making it a relatively small butterfly species in New Zealand.
  • Diet: Adult Rauparaha’s Copper primarily feeds on nectar from various flowers in their habitats.
  • Reproduction: Males scout suitable host plants to mate with females, who then lay their eggs on or near the host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults have a short lifespan of around 2-3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: This butterfly species relies on native grasses such as Muehlenbeckia species, particularly Muehlenbeckia axillaris and Muehlenbeckia ephedroides, for larval food.

By understanding these unique features, you can appreciate the distinctive presence and role of Rauparaha’s Copper in New Zealand’s rich biodiversity.

Glade Copper (Lycaena feredayi)

Glade Copper is a fascinating butterfly species found in New Zealand, especially in the forest clearings or grassy areas in the South Island.


Here are some remarkable aspects of Glade Copper:

  • Habitat: Found mostly in open spaces, such as forest and grassland, and along forest edges.
  • Appearance: This species has a beautiful coloration, with its dark brown wings adorned with small orange spots. The tips of the forewings are bordered with a vibrant orange hue.
  • Size: Glade Copper is relatively small, with a wingspan of 20-30 mm.
  • Diet: The caterpillars feed on various kinds of Muehlenbeckia species, while adult butterflies feed on nectar-rich flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the bottom of leaves of host plants, particularly Muehlenbeckia australis. After hatching, the caterpillar larvae feed on the plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: The exact lifespan of Glade Copper is uncertain, but typically, butterflies in this family tend to have a lifespan of up to a few weeks.
  • Host Plants: Muehlenbeckia species, such as Muehlenbeckia australis, M. axillaris, and M. complexa, are host plants for Glade Copper caterpillars.

By knowing more about this beautiful butterfly, you can now appreciate the amazing biodiversity of New Zealand’s flora and fauna.

Boulder Copper (Lycaena boldenarum)

The Boulder Copper is a unique butterfly species native to New Zealand.

Boulder Copper Butterfly

This small yet captivating butterfly has some features that make it stand out among its fellow butterfly species.

Here are some fascinating facts about this lovely insect:

  • Habitat: Boulder Copper butterflies are mostly found in the South Island of New Zealand, specifically in rocky terrains and alpine grasslands.
  • Appearance: They have beautiful reddish-brown wings with tiny white spots and black borders, creating a striking contrast.
  • Size: Adults have a wingspan of about 25–30 mm, making them relatively small compared to other butterfly species.
  • Diet: Similar to most butterflies, the Boulder Copper primarily feeds on the nectar from plants.
  • Reproduction: These butterflies lay their eggs individually on the underside of leaves, which serve as a nesting ground for the caterpillars once they hatch.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for a short time, approximately two to three weeks, while caterpillars take more time to develop, around 30 days.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plants for Boulder Copper eggs are Muehlenbeckia species, which provide the vital nutrients needed for both the adult and caterpillar stages.

Red Admiral (Vanessa gonerilla)

The Red Admiral is a captivating and eye-catching butterfly native to New Zealand.

red-admiral butterfly

This striking butterfly boasts several fascinating features, making it an essential species to explore when discussing the diverse butterfly species found in the country.

  • Habitat: The Red Admiral can be found throughout New Zealand in habitats such as forests, gardens, parks, and scrublands.
  • Appearance: Its unique pattern consists of a velvety black color with white and red patches on the wing edges, making it a standout among other butterflies.
  • Size: Adults have a wingspan that ranges from approximately 50 to 65mm.
  • Diet: Red Admirals mainly feed on nectar from various flowers but will also be attracted to rotting fruit.
  • Reproduction: Males and females engage in aerial courtship displays before mating. The female then lays pale green eggs on the host plant.
  • Lifespan: Adults have a relatively short life, only living about 6 weeks, while their entire life cycle, from egg to butterfly, takes approximately 2 months.
  • Host Plants: The larvae predominantly feed on the leaves of native nettle species, namely Urtica ferox and Urtica incisa, and occasionally on exotic nettles such as Urtica dioica.

Yellow Admiral (Vanessa itea)

The Yellow Admiral is an elegant butterfly species native to New Zealand, and you may find it fascinating with its vibrant, intricate markings and interesting life cycle.

Yellow Admiral butterfly

Let’s take a closer look at this remarkable butterfly and the key details that make it stand out.

  • Habitat: Yellow Admirals reside in a variety of habitats including forest edges, open countryside, and gardens.
  • Appearance: The butterfly’s wings are a bright mix of yellow-orange and black, with a striking silver-blue crescent shape on the hindwings.
  • Size: The Yellow Admiral’s wingspan ranges between 45 and 55 mm, making it a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Adult Yellow Admirals typically feed on nectar from flowers such as buddleia and hebe, while their caterpillars munch on plants from the nettle family.
  • Reproduction: These butterflies lay their eggs on leaves of host plants, and the life cycle proceeds from egg to caterpillar, followed by pupa and eventually adult.
  • Lifespan: The entire life cycle of the Yellow Admiral can take 6 to 8 weeks, with adult butterflies living up to 3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: The nettle family, primarily Urtica species, serve as host plants for Yellow Admiral caterpillars, providing them with nourishment and protection.

Next time you come across a Yellow Admiral in New Zealand, remember these fascinating facts about this beautiful and unique butterfly species.

Australian Painted Lady (Vanessa kershawi)

The Australian Painted Lady, also known as Vanessa kershawi, is a fascinating butterfly species native to New Zealand.

Australian Painted Lady Butterfly

These distinct butterflies are admired for their vibrant colors and unique patterns, making them a popular visual treat to butterfly enthusiasts.

  • Habitat: The Painted Lady can be found in various habitats, from gardens and meadows to coastal areas, forests, and grasslands.
  • Appearance: This butterfly is adorned with intricate orange, brown, and black markings on the wings, with a splash of white on the forewings’ tips.
  • Size: Adult Painted Ladies are relatively large, ranging from 45 to 55 mm in wingspan.
  • Diet: Adults primarily feed on nectar from flowers like thistles and Buddleia, while caterpillars munch on the leaves of host plants such as thistles and mallows.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on host plants, and after a few days, the caterpillars will hatch and begin their journey to transform into beautiful Painted Ladies.
  • Lifespan: Adult Painted Ladies live for approximately two to four weeks, while the entire life cycle can take up to six weeks.
  • Host Plants: Thistles and mallows are the primary host plants for this species, providing an essential food source for their caterpillars.

Forest Ringlet (Dodonidia helmsii)

The Forest Ringlet, also known as Dodonidia helmsii, is a fascinating and unique butterfly species native to New Zealand.

forest ringlet, Dodonidia helmsii

This beautiful creature can be found in various habitats and showcases intriguing physical features and behavioral traits.

Let’s explore more about the Forest Ringlet:

  • Habitat: Predominantly found in native forests, primarily in the North Island and northwest regions of the South Island, from lowlands to subalpine areas.
  • Appearance: Males exhibit dark brown upperwings with a light yellow band, while females have orange-brown upperwings with a yellow band and white margins. Both sexes have cryptic undersides mimicking dead leaves.
  • Size: This mid-sized butterfly has a wingspan of 34-40mm, making it quite easy to spot when in flight.
  • Diet: Adult Forest Ringlets feed on nectar from various native and introduced flowers, while the larvae feed on grasses.
  • Reproduction: Mating occurs throughout the day. Females lay their eggs on grass blades, usually in shaded forest areas.
  • Lifespan: Adults tend to have a lifespan of around 1-2 weeks, while the entire life cycle of the Forest Ringlet ranges from 6 months to a year.
  • Host Plants: Eggs are laid on various grass species and larvae feed on these plants to grow and develop into adult butterflies.

Small White (Pieris rapae)

The Small White, also known as the Cabbage White butterfly, is an invasive species native to Europe but has found its way to New Zealand through accidental introduction.

Small White butterfly

With a population boom, it has influenced the country’s biodiversity.

  • Habitat: They have adapted well to various habitats in New Zealand, from gardens and parks to agricultural areas.
  • Appearance: They are predominantly white with some black wing tip markings, paler in females and more pronounced in males.
  • Size: Their wingspan ranges between 32-47mm, smaller than the similarly colored Large White.
  • Diet: Adults primarily feed on nectar from flowers, while caterpillars feed on plant leaves, particularly those in the Brassica family.
  • Reproduction: These butterflies are known for their prolific breeding capabilities, laying eggs on the underside of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: They have a short adult lifespan of about 2-3 weeks, during which they mate and lay eggs.
  • Host Plants: The preferred host plants include cabbage, broccoli, kale, and other members of the Brassica genus.

Their rapid reproduction and caterpillars’ fondness for vegetable leaves make the Small White a common pest in home gardens and a threat to native plants in New Zealand.

Large White (Pieris brassicae)

The Large White, also known as the Cabbage White or Cabbage Butterfly, is a common species found throughout New Zealand.

Large White butterfly

This butterfly is known for its affinity towards plants in the brassica family, hence the name Cabbage White.

With a fascinating lifecycle and unique characteristics, the Large White is an essential part of New Zealand’s ecosystem.

  • Habitat: Found in various habitats including gardens, agricultural areas, and waste grounds, the Large White prefers areas abundant in brassica plants.
  • Appearance: As a medium to large butterfly, the Large White displays white wings with black tips on the forewings and small black spots on the hindwings.
  • Size: The Large White boasts a wingspan of about 60-70mm, making it one of the larger butterfly species in New Zealand.
  • Diet: The adult butterflies primarily feed on nectar from flowering plants, whereas the caterpillars feed on the leaves of host plants belonging to the brassica family.
  • Reproduction: After mating, female Large Whites lay batches of 20-100 yellowish eggs on the undersides of brassica leaves.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of an adult Large White is about 3-4 weeks, with a complete lifecycle from egg to adult taking 5-6 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Large Whites primarily lay their eggs on plants in the brassica family such as cabbage, kale, and broccoli, making them a common sight in vegetable gardens.

Southern Blue (Zizina labradus)

The Southern Blue is one of the charming butterfly species found in New Zealand. This delicate and small creature is a common sight, especially in the grasslands of the South Island.

Southern Blue (Zizina labradus)

Its presence contributes to the biodiversity and overall beauty of the region.

  • Habitat: Southern Blues prefer grasslands, coastal dunes, gardens, and other open areas where they can easily locate their host plants and nectar sources.
  • Appearance: The Southern Blue has a gorgeous blue sheen on its wings, surrounded by a thin black border. The underside of its wings displays a striking pattern of black spots and orange crescents.
  • Size: These butterflies are relatively small, with a wingspan of around 20 to 25 mm.
  • Diet: Nectar from various flowers serves as their primary food source.
  • Reproduction: Southern Blues typically lay their eggs on the leaves of clovers, trefoils, and other legume plants.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of a Southern Blue is around 2 to 4 weeks as an adult, although their complete life cycle, including their time as eggs, caterpillars, and pupae, may span several months.
  • Host Plants: Legume plants like clovers and trefoils are among their preferred host plants, providing sustenance for their larvae.

Northern Blue (Zizina otis)

The Northern Blue, scientifically named Zizina otis, is a captivating butterfly species you can find in New Zealand.

Northern Blue (Zizina otis)

This species has fascinating characteristics that make it stand out from other butterflies.

  • Habitat: The Northern Blue is commonly found in grassy areas, gardens, and open woodlands. They prefer sunny spots with low vegetation.
  • Appearance: The males flaunt an upperwing that exhibits a vibrant blue color, while the females display a brown upperwing with a blue sheen. The underside of their wings is patterned with black and orange spots.
  • Size: Their wingspan ranges from 25mm to 33mm, making them a relatively small butterfly species.
  • Diet: Adult Northern Blues mainly feed on nectar from flowers like dandelions, thistles, and other native plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the host plants, and once they hatch, the caterpillars start feeding on the plant’s leaves.
  • Lifespan: The Northern Blue has a relatively short lifespan, with adults living for around two weeks.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plants for the Northern Blue caterpillars include Oxalis corniculata and Aucklandia (Podocarpus acutifolius), ensuring ample food for the growing caterpillars.

These intriguing butterflies serve as a vital part of the ecosystem and contribute to the overall beauty of New Zealand’s natural landscape.

Common Blue (Zizina antanossa)

The Common Blue (Zizina antanossa) is a small and widespread butterfly species in New Zealand, often found in native and exotic grasslands, giving them ample access to their food source and ideal breeding grounds.

Common Blue butterfly

Let’s take a closer look at some of its main features:

  • Habitat: Native and exotic grasslands, gardens, and open spaces with plenty of sunlight.
  • Appearance: Males have an iridescent blue upper wing surface, while females display a brownish-grey color with orange crescents along the edges and blue at the base.
  • Size: Wingspan of around 28-36 millimeters, making them a small butterfly species.
  • Diet: Adults primarily feed on nectar from flowers, while their caterpillars feast on grasses.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the leaves of host plants, which hatch into caterpillars before evolving into butterflies.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for 2-3 weeks on average, depending on factors such as weather and availability of food.
  • Host Plants: Some of their favorite host plants include various Oxalis and clover species, providing them with a protein-rich diet essential for growth and reproduction.

Being native to New Zealand, the Common Blue butterfly is a delightful sight in gardens and grasslands, contributing to the conservation of the country’s unique biodiversity.

Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus)

The Long-tailed Blue, scientifically known as Lampides boeticus, is a fascinating butterfly species that makes its home in New Zealand.

Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus)

This visually stunning creature has a broad range, and you can spot it in various habitats.

Let’s take a closer look at the Long-tailed Blue and its characteristics:

  • Habitat: Found in a wide range of environments such as gardens, coastal areas, and forest clearings.
  • Appearance: The Long-tailed Blue has an iridescent, blue upper side with a brown border, complemented by a white underside with black spots and orange markings.
  • Size: The wingspan of this species measures between 25 to 35mm, making it a small-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: As adults, Long-tailed Blues primarily feed on nectar from a variety of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on the flower buds or young pods of their host plants.
  • Lifespan: This butterfly’s lifespan is relatively short, lasting usually from two to four weeks.
  • Host Plants: Long-tailed Blues primarily use plants from the Fabaceae family, including clovers and peas, as their host plants for egg-laying and caterpillar development.

Though this butterfly may seem delicate and small, its striking appearance and adaptability make the Long-tailed Blue a remarkable member of New Zealand’s diverse butterfly species.

Glade Skipper (Anisynta dominula)

The Glade Skipper, also known as Anisynta dominula, is among the fascinating butterfly species you can find in New Zealand.

Dominula Skipper - Anisynta dominula

It has a somewhat shy and elusive nature, making it difficult to spot.

Here are some key features worth noting about the Glade Skipper:

  • Habitat: Often found around grasslands, meadows, gardens, and woodlands, mostly thriving in South Island.
  • Appearance: Sports a brownish-black color with some white markings and fringes on its wings, giving it a striking look.
  • Size: Has a moderate wingspan ranging from 25 to 30 mm, making it a relatively small butterfly species.
  • Diet: Mainly feeds on nectar from flowers, including daisies, clover, and other native blooms.
  • Reproduction: Lays eggs on specific grass species, such as new growth stems or other tender parts of the host plant.
  • Lifespan: Notably short adult lifespan of about 4 weeks, but their whole life cycle lasts around 10 weeks from egg to adult.
  • Host Plants: Prefers to lay eggs and feed on native grasses such as Poa cita, Festuca novae-zelandiae, and Chionochloa species.

The Glade Skipper is an elusive yet captivating butterfly found in the beautiful landscapes of New Zealand.

It’s always a remarkable sight for butterfly enthusiasts when they spot one of these tiny fluttering wonders.

Common Evening Brown (Melanitis leda)

The Common Evening Brown, scientifically known as Melanitis leda, is an alluring butterfly species found in New Zealand.

Common Evening Brown

They are widely known for their striking features and unique behavior in comparison to other butterfly species.

Here’s a quick overview of the Common Evening Brown:

  • Habitat: These butterflies have a strong affinity for wet and damp environments. They prefer to reside in forests, gardens, and other green spaces near water bodies.
  • Appearance: The Common Evening Brown’s wings showcase a blend of orange and brown hues, with striking patterns scattered throughout. This unique coloration allows them to camouflage perfectly in their surroundings.
  • Size: As an adult, the average wingspan for this species ranges between 50 to 70 millimeters.
  • Diet: The Common Evening Brown predominantly feeds on flower nectar. Their long proboscis enables them to access nectar in various types of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Generally, these butterflies mate during dusk hours, and females lay their eggs on host plants for the larvae.
  • Lifespan: Like most butterfly species, their life cycle is quite short, with an average lifespan of just a few weeks.
  • Host Plants: The Common Evening Brown larvae find sustenance in a variety of grasses, such as Poaceae species, which thrive in the damp regions they inhabit.

Tussock Butterfly (Argyrophenga antipodum)

The Tussock Butterfly, also known as the Argyrophenga antipodum, is a unique and fascinating butterfly species that you can find in New Zealand.

Tussock Butterfly (Argyrophenga antipodum)

This beautiful insect is admired for its captivating looks and interesting life cycle.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key aspects of the Tussock Butterfly:

  • Habitat: It thrives in open habitats, such as tussock grasslands, shrublands, and coastal areas. This species is mostly found in the South Island and some parts of the North Island of New Zealand.
  • Appearance: The Tussock Butterfly has a distinctive pattern on its wings, with brown, orange, and white shades. The dark patterns on the wings’ veins give it an interesting appearance.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging from 35 to 45mm, this medium-sized butterfly is quite noticeable when flying about.
  • Diet: Adult Tussock Butterflies feed on the nectar of various flowers, while the caterpillars primarily eat tussock grasses
  • Reproduction: Mating occurs in spring, and females lay their eggs on or near the host plants, ensuring that the caterpillars have an adequate food source.
  • Lifespan: The adult Tussock Butterfly lives for about 3-4 weeks, with the entire life cycle ranging from egg to adulthood lasting a few months.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars of this species rely on various tussock grasses as their primary food source, with Chionochloa, Festuca, and Poa grass species being some of the most common plants used.

New Zealand Red Admiral (Bassaris gonerilla)

The New Zealand Red Admiral, also known as Bassaris gonerilla, is a beautiful and unique butterfly species found in the islands of New Zealand.

red admiral butterfly: open

This stunning creature is known for its striking colors and patterns.

Here’s some essential information about the species:

  • Habitat: These butterflies live in various habitats across New Zealand, including forests, open scrublands, and gardens.
  • Appearance: The wings feature striking black and red patterns along with white and yellow markings. They have a fascinating red circle at the base of their lower hindwings.
  • Size: New Zealand Red Admirals have a wingspan of about 60-70mm, making them relatively large compared to other native species.
  • Diet: Adults primarily feed on nectar from flowers, while the caterpillars feed on different species of nettle plants.
  • Reproduction: Female butterflies lay their eggs on the host plants, from which the caterpillars emerge and begin feeding.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterflies live about 3 to 5 weeks during the summer months.
  • Host Plants: Urtica species, such as the New Zealand native nettle (Urtica ferox), are commonly utilized by this species as a host plant for their caterpillars.

Knowing about these attractive butterflies can add excitement to your next outdoor adventure in New Zealand. Take the time to look for them and appreciate their spectacular beauty!

New Zealand Blue Moon (Hypolimnas bolina nerina)

The New Zealand Blue Moon is a stunning butterfly species known for its striking coloration and pattern.

New Zealand Blue Moon Butterfly

It’s commonly found in various regions across New Zealand, including Northland and Auckland.

Here’s a quick look into this beautiful creature:

  • Habitat: Blue Moons prefer open areas with a mix of forest and grassland, such as meadows or forest edges. They can also be found in parks and gardens.
  • Appearance: This butterfly features a gorgeous mix of black, white, and blue colors, with a unique eye-spot pattern on its wings.
  • Size: The Blue Moon butterfly has a wingspan of about 70-80mm, making it a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: The adult butterflies primarily feed on nectar from various types of flowers, while their caterpillars munch on green leaves.
  • Reproduction: The female Blue Moon lays her eggs on the leaves of the host plants. These eggs then hatch into caterpillars, which feed on the leaves before eventually transforming into pupae.
  • Lifespan: Adult Blue Moons typically have a lifespan of 2-4 weeks, while caterpillars need around 2-3 weeks to transform into adults.
  • Host Plants: Some of the most common host plants for the Blue Moon caterpillars include Urtica mairei, pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia complexa), and the native nettle (Urtica ferox).

Leonard’s Skipper (Hesperia leonardus)

Leonard’s Skipper is one of the fascinating butterfly species that you can find in New Zealand.

Leonard's Skipper butterfly

Let’s take a closer look at the various aspects of this beautiful butterfly:

  • Habitat: Leonard’s Skippers prefer open and grassy areas, including meadows, fields, and even urban gardens.
  • Appearance: The upper side of this butterfly is brown or orange-brown, with a distinct pattern of black spots and streaks on the forewings and narrow, jagged black bands on the hindwings.
  • Size: This butterfly has a wingspan that ranges from 25 to 35 millimeters.
  • Diet: As an adult, Leonard’s Skipper feeds on the nectar from various flowers, while the caterpillars feed on grasses.
  • Reproduction: As with most butterflies, Leonard’s Skippers undergo a complete metamorphosis, starting as an egg, then hatching into a caterpillar, then pupating in a chrysalis before emerging as a fully-formed adult butterfly.
  • Lifespan: Adult Leonard’s Skippers have a brief life, typically living for only about two weeks.
  • Host Plants: The favored host plants for the caterpillars include various grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass and buffalo grass.

Lepidoptera (Lepidoptera jansei)

Lepidoptera jansei, a member of the vast Lepidoptera order, is a butterfly species native to New Zealand.

This beautiful insect displays distinct characteristics and behaviors that make it an essential part of the local ecosystem.

Let’s delve into the key aspects of Lepidoptera jansei:

  • Habitat: L. jansei primarily inhabits forests, where they can easily find their preferred host plants.
  • Appearance: They exhibit a striking color pattern, with a black base adorned by bright yellow markings and blue highlights.
  • Size: The wingspan of L. jansei ranges from approximately 35 to 45 millimeters, making them a medium-sized butterfly species.
  • Diet: As adults, L. jansei primarily feed on the nectar of flowering plants, while their larvae feed on plant leaves.
  • Reproduction: Mating typically occurs during warm, sunny days, after which the female lays her eggs on various host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adult L. jansei butterflies live for about 2 to 4 weeks, a common lifespan for many butterfly species.
  • Host Plants: The larvae of L. jansei primarily feed on plants from the Asteraceae family, including daisies and sunflowers.

By understanding the unique qualities of Lepidoptera jansei, we can better appreciate the diversity and beauty of New Zealand’s butterfly fauna.

New Zealand Tussock (Argyrophenga antipodum)

You might have come across the New Zealand Tussock, a fascinating butterfly species that is endemic to New Zealand.

This unique insect is known for its vibrant colors and intriguing patterns.

Here are some key factors to consider about this amazing butterfly:

  • Habitat: New Zealand Tussock butterflies are typically found in tussock grasslands, alpine shrublands, and open forests.
  • Appearance: This butterfly mainly exhibits brown and orange colors dispersed in a beautiful pattern on its wings. Its underwings have intricate, cryptic coloration that matches the ground, providing excellent camouflage.
  • Size: The New Zealand Tussock has a wingspan of about 40-45 mm in males and 45-50 mm in females.
  • Diet: The larvae are known to consume tussock grasses, while nectar from various flowers serves as a food source for the adult butterflies.
  • Reproduction: Adult females lay single eggs on host plants. The eggs eventually hatch into caterpillars, which go through several stages before forming a chrysalis and emerging as adult butterflies.
  • Lifespan: Adult lifespan is rather short, lasting only around two weeks.
  • Host Plants: Some common host plants for caterpillars include tussock grass species (such as Chionochloa) and other native grasses.

Now that you’ve learned about the New Zealand Tussock, you may find yourself eager to observe this fascinating species during your next trip to New Zealand.

Dull Firetip (Pyrrhopyge thericles)

The Dull Firetip, scientifically known as Pyrrhopyge thericles, is a remarkable butterfly species that you can find in New Zealand.

Pyrrhopyge thericles-Thericles Firetip

As an essential part of the diverse fauna of the country, this butterfly brings a touch of beauty to its surroundings.

Here are some notable facts about the Dull Firetip:

  • Habitat: The Dull Firetip thrives in open forests and clearings near water sources.
  • Appearance: This species boasts a dark brown colour with distinctive red markings on the hindwings.
  • Size: Adult Dull Firetips typically have a wingspan of about 40-45 millimeters.
  • Diet: The adult butterflies primarily feed on nectar from flowers, while the caterpillars munch on leaves of host plants.
  • Reproduction: Female Dull Firetips lay eggs on the leaves of suitable host plants for their caterpillars to feed on once they hatch.
  • Lifespan: Dull Firetips generally have a lifespan of 1-2 months in their adult stage.
  • Host Plants: The preferred host plants for Dull Firetip caterpillars are grasses and sedges.

With their intriguing appearance and unique characteristics, Dull Firetips are an exquisite component of the New Zealand butterfly scene.

Lesser Grass Blue (Zizina otis)

The Lesser Grass Blue, scientifically known as Zizina otis, is a small butterfly species that’s native to New Zealand.

Lesser grass blue butterfly (Zizina otis lampa)

It’s a brilliant species to watch for in your butterfly-spotting adventures, and now we’ll share some interesting facts about this creature:

  • Habitat: Lesser Grass Blues are generally found in grassy areas, such as meadows, parks, and urban gardens. They prefer warm, sunny environments and can often be seen on or near the grass.
  • Appearance: The upper side of males is primarily blue, while females have dark brown wings with blue at the wing base. The undersides of both sexes are pale grey with small black spots.
  • Size: With a wingspan of around 15-25mm, Lesser Grass Blues are considered one of the smallest butterflies in New Zealand.
  • Diet: Adult Lesser Grass Blues mainly feed on nectar from flowers, while their caterpillars feed on various species of legumes.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the underside of leaves of host plants. These eggs eventually hatch into caterpillars, which eventually pupate to become adult butterflies.
  • Lifespan: Lesser Grass Blues have a relatively short lifespan, usually between 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Their primary host plants are legumes, specifically members of the Fabaceae family, such as clovers and alfalfa.

So next time you’re taking a leisurely stroll in a sunny meadow, keep an eye out for the beautiful Lesser Grass Blue butterfly!

Meadow Argus (Junonia villida)

Meadow Argus, also known as Junonia villida, is a striking butterfly species native to New Zealand.

Meadow Argus butterfly

Known for its attractive markings and fascinating behavior, this beautiful creature is often found in various habitats across the country.

Here are some key characteristics of the Meadow Argus butterfly:

  • Habitat: Found in various habitats, including meadows, forests, gardens, and grasslands.
  • Appearance: Characterized by brownish-orange wings with a pattern of black spots and blue tinged-white centers.
  • Size: Adults have a wingspan of approximately 42-52mm.
  • Diet: Adult Meadow Argus butterflies feed on the nectar from flowers, while their larvae feed on a variety of host plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the underside of host plants’ leaves. The eggs hatch and develop into colorful caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: The lifespan of the Meadow Argus is around two to three weeks.
  • Host Plants: Common host plants include species from the Rubiaceae and Acanthaceae families, such as Spermacoce articularis and Ruellia humilis.

To encounter this captivating butterfly species, visit a nearby meadow or garden, and try to spot the beautiful Meadow Argus fluttering about.

This little creature is sure to delight your senses and spark your curiosity about New Zealand’s diverse butterfly species.

Chatham Island Blue (Zizina oxleyi)

The Chatham Island Blue is a small yet fascinating butterfly species found only in the Chatham Islands.

2016-02-27 at 11-33-50

Unique to New Zealand’s biodiversity, this butterfly has become an essential aspect of the local environment.

Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of this captivating species:

  • Habitat: Coastal areas, grasslands, sand dunes, and scrubby vegetation within the Chatham Islands are typical habitats for the Chatham Island Blue Butterfly.
  • Appearance: The wings of this delicate butterfly exhibit a beautiful blue color adorned with intricate patterns, and are outlined with a row of black dots along the edge.
  • Size: With a wingspan of only 20-25mm, the Chatham Island Blue is one of the smallest butterflies in New Zealand.
  • Diet: These butterflies feed on nectar from various native and exotic flowers, contributing to plant pollination.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on native host plants, where caterpillars emerge to feed before forming their chrysalis.
  • Lifespan: Although their exact lifespan is unknown, most Chatham Island Blue butterflies live for approximately a few weeks to a month.
  • Host Plants: Oxylobium ellipticum and Carmichaelia appressa are among the primary host plants for Chatham Island Blue caterpillars.

Preserving the Chatham Island Blue’s habitat is crucial for maintaining the vibrant ecosystem of the Chatham Islands and fostering the rich biodiversity of New Zealand.

Currant Clearwing (Synanthedon tipuliformis)

The Currant Clearwing (Synanthedon tipuliformis) is a fascinating species of moth native to New Zealand.

Currant Clearwing (Synanthedon tipuliformis)

This unique insect is known for its transparent wings, which make it both elusive and intriguing to observe.

Here are some incredible details about this astonishing species:

  • Habitat: Found predominantly in forests and shrublands, where its host plants are located.
  • Appearance: Characterized by their transparent wings with black veins and edges, as well as a yellow and black banded abdomen.
  • Size: With a wingspan of 20-30mm, they are relatively small in comparison to other moth species.
  • Diet: The adult clearwings feed on the nectar of various endemic flowers, while their larvae feed on the stems and leaves of native plants.
  • Reproduction: After mating, the female lays her eggs on the host plants, with larval development taking several weeks to months.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for around 2-3 weeks, which is quite short compared to other moth species.
  • Host Plants: Poroporo (Solanum aviculare), Tutu (Coriaria arborea), and Kahakaha (Peraxilla tetrapetala) are some common host plants for the larvae of the Currant Clearwing.

This distinctive species is certainly a remarkable showcase of New Zealand’s incredible biodiversity and a delightful discovery for nature enthusiasts.

Kawakawa Looper (Cleora scriptaria)

The Kawakawa Looper is a fascinating moth species found throughout New Zealand’s forests.

Kawakawa Looper - Cleora scriptaria

Known for its unique markings and behavior, this butterfly is fascinating to observe and study.

Here are some interesting facts about this captivating insect.

  • Habitat: Primarily found in lowland forests and urban areas with native plant vegetation.
  • Appearance: Various shades of brown and gray, with intricate wing patterns that blend in with the bark of trees. The caterpillars, on the other hand, have a green hue that camouflages them against the leaves.
  • Size: Wingspan ranges between 32-38mm, making it a medium-sized moth species.
  • Diet: The caterpillars primarily feed on leaves of the Kawakawa tree, while adult moths consume plant nectar.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on leaf surfaces, and the eggs transition into caterpillars after hatching.
  • Lifespan: As with most moths, the adult stage lasts only a few weeks, but the entire life cycle takes several months, from egg to adulthood.
  • Host Plants: Primarily the Kawakawa tree, and other related tree species.

The Kawakawa Looper is an integral part of the New Zealand ecosystem, serving as a source of food for predators and as a natural controller of population sizes of their host plants.

Common Sootywing (Pholisora catullus)

The Common Sootywing (Pholisora catullus) is a small butterfly species often found in New Zealand, known for its rapid flight and intriguing behavior.

common sootywing (Pholisora catullus) on smooth oxeye at Clear Creek fen IA 653A1604

In this section, we will learn more about this charismatic species, from its habitat to its lifespan.

  • Habitat: Common Sootywings can be found in a variety of habitats, including urban gardens, open grassy areas, and agricultural lands.
  • Appearance: The adults have black wings covered in white scales, giving them a sooty appearance. The underside of their wings is pale, with scalloped edges and small, white streaks.
  • Size: With a wingspan of approximately 25-30mm, this species is relatively small compared to other butterflies in New Zealand.
  • Diet: The adult butterflies feed mainly on nectar from flowers, while the caterpillars feed on the leaves of their host plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on host plants. The eggs hatch into caterpillars within about a week, and then they pupate in a loosely spun cocoon.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterflies typically live for around 2-4 weeks, while the entire life cycle from egg to adult takes around 4-5 weeks.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars of Common Sootywings prefer to feed on plants from the Amaranthaceae family, such as Amaranthus and Chenopodium species.


In conclusion, New Zealand is home to a diverse and fascinating range of 30 butterfly species, each with its unique characteristics and habitat.

By learning more about these delicate creatures, we can better understand the importance of conservation efforts in the country.

We’d love to hear your thoughts – which New Zealand butterfly is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

Butterflies   Updated: June 25, 2023
avatar Welcome to Insectic, a blog to learn about insects and bugs. I'm Richard, and I've created this website to share my experience, knowledge, and passion with others.

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