Blue moon butterfly

Had a phone call from Mary Parkinson yesterday to say there have been several sightings of blue moon butterflies in the Tauranga area, including at Te Puna Quarry Park.

So I laced up my walking shoes and headed to the park, thinking I’d have a good walk, including the butterfly garden, regardless of the blue moon … and saw one! Hypolimnas bolina, native to Australia and some Pacific islands, was flitting around the fuchsia garden.


A male blue moon butterfly seen at the Quarry. Female butterflies are brown with a white marking across the bottom of the wings. He was about the size of a monarch. Photo: Sandra Simpson

They’re called common eggfly or giant eggfly in Australia – blue moon is a much prettier name, isn’t it? The blue moon is notable for having evolved itself very quickly to protect against a bacteria that was pushing the population on Samoa towards extinction.

According to this story from New Plymouth last year, the butterflies get blown across on the jet stream.

As well as seeing two yellow admirals pushing a monarch around in mid-air, I also came across some common blue butterflies (Zizina otis labradus, cool name) in the park’s butterfly garden. It also occurs in Australia and some Pacific islands and is often seen in dry pasture here.


A female common blue butterfly. Photo: Sandra Simpson



5 thoughts on “Blue moon butterfly

  1. Hi Sandra, Thank you, you have answered my question – What is this butterfly? he appeared in my Papamoa garden last weekend, then was spied again in a clients garden in Royal Palm Beach during the week. The blue dots seemed to intensify in colour as I came closer to photograph him, what a fabulous adaptation.

    • Thanks Leigh – Mary says there are quite a few around Papamoa and someone in Whakatane has 20 or so blue moon butterflies on a couple of camellia trees. Three males and two females have been confirmed at the Quarry but apparently there have been no confirmed sightings in Auckland so it’s just our bit of the coast that has been graced with their presence!

  2. Seen one of these lovely Blue Moon Butterfly today just outside Gisborne, it must have been 100mm wide across the wings. Managed to snap a quick couple of photos. It seemed to be in very good condition.

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