Nab a butterfly - and a reward
Nelson bounty hunters - a mix of net-wielding children and adults - scooped up 47 great white butterflies last week and earned $470 for their school holiday endeavours.
Each dead great white earns a bounty of $10 from the Department of Conservation.
The more numerous small white butterflies are proving easier to track down with 947 handed in during the first week of the two-week scheme.
DOC staff want dead small white butterflies handed in to double check they are not great white butterflies. Those bringing them in have their names go into a draw to win spot prizes including movie passes, gift certificates and a free night for a family in the new Anchorage Hut on the Abel Tasman National Park coast.
DOC has put the bounty on the pest to help its programme to eradicate it in Nelson and Tasman and stop it spreading elsewhere in New Zealand. The butterfly poses a serious threat to home and commercial brassica crops and endangered native cresses.
With female great whites able to lay as many as 750 eggs, every one killed potentially stops up to another 750 butterflies emerging.
DOC great white butterfly project manager Bruce Vander Lee said 124 individuals or groups, both adults and children, had handed in butterflies last week, with one individual holding the record of three great whites in a day.
But that could easily change, he said.
"I'm not sure if people are stashing them in the freezer to bring them all in at the end or what."
DOC was pleased that so many in the community had joined in, and was grateful for the help, Mr Vander Lee said.
"I think it's caught people's imagination - I'm amazed at how many families come in together, they've spent the day out and had a good time, so I'm happy about that."
Each great white butterfly caught and killed was helping DOC in trying to beat a spring butterfly breeding peak.
Mr Vander Lee advised butterfly hunters to look for great whites in parks or other public areas or in other places only if searchers know that people have given their permission.
Parks with flowers were good hunting grounds, he said.
Householders are also asked to support the butterfly eradication programme by looking for great white butterfly eggs and caterpillars clustered on plants it favours, including nasturtium, honesty and brassica vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli. Any found should be reported to the Ministry for Primary Industries hotline 0800 80 99 66.
The tiny, yellow eggs are found in clusters of 30 to 100. Young caterpillars are also tiny and are yellowish with a shiny black head. The larger caterpillars are speckled greenish-yellow and black with three yellow lines along their bodies and they grow to about 50 millimetres in length.
DOC took over the eradication programme in November last year and field staff have carried out more than 28,000 garden searches.
Since the great white was discovered by an alert pensioner in a city garden in 2010 more than 850 infestations have been found and removed.
TIPS FOR BOUNTY HUNTERS
Between 10am and noon on sunny, calm days is best. The butterflies are especially attracted to large patches of flowering brassica plants on sunny, warm slopes, particularly red-flowering valerian, nasturtium and wild-growing brassicas such as radishes and turnips. Dead butterflies should be put in a jar or sealed plastic bag and stored in the freezer so they don't go mouldy before they can be handed in to DOC. Each small white gives one entry into the spot prize draw. Take them to Nelson district office, Monro Building, 186 Bridge St, Nelson between 8.30am and 4.30pm on weekdays with this Friday, October 11, the last day for collecting the $10 reward.
- © Fairfax NZ News