A female great white butterfly.

Great white butterfly eradication success


The invasive pest great white butterfly has been eradicated from New Zealand in a world-first achievement.

Great white butterflies posed a major threat to native plant species and primary sector economy and were first seen in Nelson in 2010.

A DOC-led eradication effort ran for three and a half years says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“It’s now been two years since any have been seen, and we’re confident we can declare them eradicated.”

Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith is delighted the DOC-led community eradication of the great white butterfly has been declared a success.

“An eradication of this sort is incredibly challenging, with hundreds of butterflies breeding across private properties and it requiring only one to be missed for the eradication to be unsuccessful.

“We should be incredibly proud that Nelson has achieved the first ever eradication of an unwanted butterfly population in the world. It is a tribute to the skilled staff of DOC, the Ministry for Primary Industries, research institutions and the strong community support.”

DOC rangers carried out more than 263,000 searches of around 29,000 properties in the region for the butterfly and its eggs, caterpillars and pupae.

“People also kept watch for the butterflies, reported finds and allowed repeated searches of their gardens – all in all, without the help of the people of Nelson the butterfly may well have eventually spread across the country,” says Nathan Guy.