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Butterflies of New Zealand
Common Tussock
Argyrophenga antipodum  DOUBLEDAY, 1845
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe -
Argyrophenga antipodum  Nugget Point, Otago, South Island, NZ Nigel Peace
Introduction
The genus Argyrophenga comprises of 3 species - antipodum, harrisi and janitae, all of which are endemic to New Zealand.
Argyrophenga antipodum is the commonest and most widespread species - it is found only on South Island, on the eastern side of the Southern Alps.
Habitats
This species is found in grassy habitats at elevations between 0-2000m but is commonest between about 500-1500m.
Lifecycle
The eggs are laid singly on grasses including Poa, Festuca, Chionochloa and Agropyron, or may be dropped randomly among them in flight. The fully grown larva is green with a pair of pale greenish-yellow dorsal stripes which continue onto the head horns. There is also a thin greenish-white stripe below the spiracles. The pupa can be either pale green or straw coloured, and is suspended by the cremaster from a grass stem. There is one generation per year in lowland areas but it is suspected that larvae may pass 2 winters at high elevations.
Adult behaviour

The butterflies have a weak bobbing flight. When settling they often land awkwardly among grasses and have trouble finding a footing. They will bask with wings fully outspread in calm sunny weather but keep them closed if it is overcast or breezy. If alarmed they flash open their wings momentarily to expose the diematic ocelli, and then instantly drop deep into the grass tussocks where the striped undersides of their hindwings afford them excellent camouflage among the stems and grass blades.

 

 

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