Lepidoptera at ZEALANDIA
Around 100 years ago, eminent NZ entomologist George Vernon Hudson worked extensively in the Karori region to create a comprehensive list of Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) that could be found in the Wellington region.
Now, the Wellington Branch of the New Zealand Entomology Society have embarked on a whāinga/mission, in partnership with ZEALANDIA, to develop a current list of moths in the northern end of the valley. They will be using targeted sampling methods to collect representative samples of the moth fauna and then have experts and volunteers from the society to identify them and generate a species list. This project will enable us to do some comparison over time and tell some stories about ecological restoration and loss over a long time scale.
There is a more recent dataset created in the early 2000’s, just after the ZEALANDIA fence had gone up, when PhD student Enrique Mundaca performed a very similar survey over in the valley. Comparisons from Enrique’s survey will be particularly interesting for ZEALANDIA's restoration goals. Moths collected will be professionally curated and cared for by Te Papa, photos and ID guides will be created to help public and keen amateurs get involved.
The Society undertook their first night of surveying in August, and not surprisingly found few insects active in the cold winter conditions. They did though find 14 commonly occurring species of moth, two are featured below.
Moths are an incredibly diverse group of species with some amazing adaptations. We plan to share information on some of the species found in the valley as it emerges, keep an eye out if you are on night walks.
You can actually help develop this list! If you spot moths in the valley, take a photo. These can be uploaded to iNaturalist (there is an excellent, accessible app for this).
Article Photo Credit: Christopher Stephens