Posted at the Herald Sun on Feb 28:
Butterfly researchers are gathering in Auckland next month to figure out what has happened to the population of native butterflies usually seen en masse nationwide.
"We've heard from many monarch lovers in Canterbury and Otago that the monarchs haven't returned this summer - and it's something that's got us baffled," says Jacqui Knight, secretary of the Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust...
New Zealanders are concerned, she says, as they hold the notoriously social and graceful insect close to their hearts. "We love the monarch, and who wouldn't? It's a wonderful, beautiful insect and one we really need to look after."
While the population was likely to bounce back next year, experts say the anecdotal decline could be an indicator that times are tough for other insects in the food chain.
"Monarchs are an indicator species, telling us a lot about how other insects are going, and this is something to watch closely as we need our insects."