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Lepidoptera, with over 1800 species, form the third largest order of insects in New Zealand after beetles (Coleoptera) and flies (Diptera).
[Graphania brunneosa] (female). Noctuidae: Noctuinae. Image: Birgit E. Rhode

[Graphania brunneosa] (female). Noctuidae: Noctuinae. Image: Birgit E. Rhode

Although our fauna is not diverse by world standards, and is especially poor in butterflies (only 13 native species currently recognised), it is extremely important globally for its high proportion of endemic taxa (about 90% of all species), and the presence of ancient, relictual groups, some rather richly represented (e.g. Micropterigidae with at least 16 species, and the endemic family Mnesarchaeidae with 14).

New Zealand shares with Australia and New Caledonia an unusually high proportion of species with detritivorous larvae (i.e. larvae feeding on leaf-litter, dead wood and/or fungi), and the second most diverse family of Lepidoptera here is just such a group, Oecophoridae (nearly 250 species, compared to just 86 for the former USSR, a land area 80 times as large). Tineidae (over 100 species) and Psychidae (over 50 species) are also well represented. Such recyclers of nutrients in our forests and shrublands undoubtedly play an important ecosystem role, but unfortunately these groups are among the most neglected and difficult taxonomically. Many detritivorous moths from overseas are well established in New Zealand and their effects on our native fauna (if any), such as through competitive interactions, are unknown.

Current research is focused on improving our understanding of these groups, their taxonomy, biology, distribution and microhabitat requirements. Information is presented as part of taxonomic revisions in the Fauna of New Zealand series.


Hoare RJB 2012. A new species of Hierodoris Meyrick (Lepidoptera: Oecophoridae) with a telescopic ovipositor, from granite sand plains in Fiordland. New Zealand entomologist 35(1): 51-57.

Stringer IAN, Hitchmough JS, Dugdale JS, Edwards E, Hoare JB, Patrick BH 2012. The conservation status of New Zealand Lepidoptera. New Zealand entomologist 35(20077-9962): 120-127.

Brockerhoff EG, Suckling DM, Ecroyd CE, Wagstaff SJ, Raabe MC, Dowell RV, Wearing CH 2011. Worldwide Host Plants of the Highly Polyphagous, Invasive Epiphyas postvittana (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Journal of economic entomology 104(5): 1514-1524. WOS:000295923100010

Hoare RJB 2011. Lepidoptera of gumland heaths - a threatened and rare ecosystem of nothern New Zealand. New Zealand entomologist 34(1): 67-76.

Nieukerken EJv, Berg Cvd, Hoare RJB, den Berg Cv, van Nieukerken EJ, van den Berg C 2011. A new species of the endemic Australian genus Roscidotoga Hoare from rainforests in southern Queensland (Lepidoptera: Nepticulidae). Tijdschrift voor entomologie 154(2): 193-201. CABI:20113392546

Hoare RJB 2010. Izatha (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Gelechioidea: Oecophoridae) Crosby TK ed. Fauna of New Zealand. 65. Lincoln, Manaaki Whenua Press. 201 p

Patrick BH, Hoare RJB, Rhode BE 2010. Taxonomy and conservation of allopatric moth populations: a revisionary study of the Notoreas perornata Walker complex (Lepidoptera: Geometridae: Larentiinae), with special reference to southern New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 37(4): 257–283.

Hoare R, Dugdale J, Watts C 2006. The world's thinnest caterpillar? A new genus and species of Batrachedridae (Lepidoptera) from Sporadanthus ferrugineus (Restionaceae), a threatened New Zealand plant. Invertebrate Systematics 20(5): 571–583.

Dugdale JS 2005. Three new species of Tracholena Common, 1965 (Lepidoptera : Tortricidae : Tortricinae : Schoenotenini) from New Caledonia associated with Araucariaceae. Zootaxa(870): 1-16.

Hoare RJB 2005. Hierodoris (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Gelechioidea: Oecophoridae), and overview of Oecophoridae. Fauna of New Zealand. 54. Lincoln, Manaaki Whenua Press. -102 p

Hoare RJB, Dugdale JS 2003. Description of the New Zealand incurvarioid Xanadoses nielseni, gen. nov., sp nov and placement in Cecidosidae (Lepidoptera). Invertebrate systematics 17(1): 47-57.

Hoare RJB 2001. Adventive species of Lepidoptera recorded for the first time in New Zealand since 1988. New Zealand entomologist 24: 23-47.

Hoare RJB 2000/3. A new genus of primitive Nepticulidae (Lepidoptera) from eastern Australia, with a revised diagnosis of nepticulid subfamilies. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 128(3): 289-317.

Patrick BH, Dugdale JS 2000. Conservation status of the New Zealand Lepidoptera. Science for conservation. 136. Wellington, Dept. of Conservation. -33 p

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