With their bright orange and black wings, copper butterflies are hard to miss. Found throughout New Zealand, they are plentiful in summer. Their larvae feed exclusively on pōhuehue plants. Copper butterflies have evolved a strategy for coping with New Zealand’s unpredictable climate. In every brood some larvae grow steadily towards maturity, but others stop feeding after just one moult and enter a resting stage (diapause) for several months before continuing their growth some months later. This increases the chance of survival for some offspring if harsh conditions suddenly develop.
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Photograph by George Gibbs
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