The black mountain ringlet butterfly (Percnodaimon merula) survives in the harsh alpine zones of the South Island. It is dark to absorb sunlight, and basks on rocks to increase its body temperature. When warmed, adults are alert and fly about. They lay their eggs on sun-warmed rocks so that they incubate faster. The life cycle of the species can extend over two or three years. For much of this time they are dormant, as the alpine environment’s low temperatures restrict activity for half of every year.
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Photograph by Brian Patrick
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