New Zealand Lepidoptera

John Grehan jrg13 at
Fri Jan 11 00:35:35 EST 2002

Well it looks like I'll be travelling to New Zealand for four weeks from 
about the middle of February so I will have the chance to contribute 
something original to the list on the moths and butterflies. One person 
commented to me earlier on not seeing much in the way of butterflies 
so  I  will comment on what butterflies I see in particular locations. 
Hopefully I will find out if and how I can access the list via my email 
address in which case I may be able to send some messages during the trip 
itself. Except for the high elevation tussock butterflies of the South 
Island I may have the chance to bump into most other groups.

Anyone ever headed that way might like to read the introduction to the 
annotated catalogue of Lepidoptera by John Dugdale (1998: Lepidoptera 
annotated catalogue and keys to family-group taxa. Fauna of New Zealand 
14:1-262). This publication is primarily a species list, but includes 
taxonomic synonymies for each and many have additional notes. George Gibbs 
wrote an excellent book on the butterfly fauna some years ago. I'll excerpt 
some notes from Dugdale over the coming days beginning with the following:
1. The new Zealand fauna stands out with respect to:
   (a) High level of endemicity
   (b) distinctive nature of many forms in relation to Australia
   (c) "strange" absences

Of the 2150 names proposed for New Zealand species 73% of type specimens 
are in Northern Hemisphere institutions and of these 68% are in the British 
Museum of Natural History (perhaps there is an issue here regarding 
repatriation of types). This has resulted in many taxonomic problems over 
the decades.

More to come...

John Grehan


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