Butterflies grow on you

BEAUTIFUL BUTTERFLIES: Rob Jones is planting nettles across Auckland to try to bring back red and yellow admiral butterflies.
BEAUTIFUL BUTTERFLIES: Rob Jones is planting nettles across Auckland to try to bring back red and yellow admiral butterflies.

Collecting insects and birds' eggs is something little boys love. Rob Jones just never grew out of it.

He is committed to taking care of the environment but there are two things in particular that fascinate him.

"Butterflies and birds – that's my passion and that's what I do all the time now. I'm just trying to make a bit of a difference," he says.

"If you can help to make the place and the environment around you better you've put your stamp on the world."

The Mt Eden resident has loved butterflies since he was a boy and travels the world looking for and photographing the creatures.

Mr Jones says aerial spraying of Auckland in the mid-1990s killed off a large number of the city's butterflies.

With funding from Forest and Bird and permission from Auckland Council he has been planting nettles in Waiatarua Reserve and Balmoral Heights Park to encourage red and yellow admiral butterflies back.

They used to be a common sight around Auckland but have become very rare.

Mr Jones lives close enough to tend to the butterflies and plants and has a volunteer who helps keep an eye out too.

He has also been busy planting nettles for people interested in helping admiral butterflies survive on their properties. He's keen to hear from more people who want plants at their house or who can help to look after them in a public area.

"With a little bit of effort people can put a bit of garden aside and let them breed in cities. They are quite happy with city lives, they just need a place to breed."

Mr Jones regularly travels to the South Island to bring back red and yellow admiral caterpillars. But preventing wasps from killing the creatures is the hard part.

Mr Jones says it is important that people find and get rid of wasps nests as quickly as possible to give butterflies a better chance at living and reproducing.

He would eventually like to see the revival of the copper and long-tailed blue butterflies as well.

Email rob.jones@xtra.co.nz with your phone number if you are interested in having nettles planted.

East And Bays Courier