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Search for forest ringlet butterfly

HAVE you seen the New Zealand forest ringlet butterfly?

Conservationists around the country are urging New Zealanders to report any sightings of the insect.

The forest ringlet butterfly is native to New Zealand with numbers believed to be in serious decline. The butterflies appear in January or February and tend to be seen around shrubs and tall trees.

With a wingspan between 40-65mms, the adult butterfly is dark brown with orange stripes with two eyespots on the rear wings and another eyespot towards the tip of the forewing. When its wings are closed, the hind wings appear silver with black stripes — this allows the butterfly to camouflage against thin leaves.

Patron of the Moths and Butterflies of New Zealand Trust, Sir Bob Harvey is worried that the butterfly may be extinct.

“Our butterflies have been badly affected by introduced predators and parasites. If these have affected a butterfly that is well known, what have they done to our native butterflies such as the forest ringlet? How can we know that something has been lost forever if we didn't know it existed to begin with?”

Forest & Bird says threats to the butterflies are thought to include deforestation, predatory wasps, flies and introduced birds.

If you spot a forest ringlet butterfly, report it to Moths and Butterflies Trust on their website for researchers to investigate the situation. — Wairoa Star

sightings wanted: Moths and Butterflies of New Zealand Trust want people to report any sightings of the New Zealand forest ringlet butterfly as the insect faces a sharp decline.