Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Red Admiral - Kahukura

This delicate and pretty wee butterfly is a common sight around New Zealand gardens. It looks rather similar to the Yellow Admiral, but lacks the yellow patches (although the yellow still has red on its wings). The Maori name translates as "red cloak". When at rest, these colours are folded away, behind well camouflaged, mottled brown underwings. The adults feed on nectar and are quite long-lived, surviving for up to 9 months if they overwinter (although they end up quite bedraggled after this time). The eggs are laid on a nettle leaf and go through 5 instars, or growth stages, developing more defined spikes and stripes as they grow. Their favourite food is Ongaonga, an endemic nettle. This protects them somewhat during the day as they roll it over themselves, forming a sort of "tent". When they reach around 36 mm, they go into the pupae stage.

This one is going to be making a very long flight. She's destined for Finland.

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