Honshu white admiral for biocontrol of Japanese honeysuckle

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  • #32439


    Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is a fast emerging weed of concern to regional councils and the Department of Conservation.   Landcare Research has identified insects in Japan that could be used as biological control agents for Japanese honeysuckle.

    They have recommended that the Honshu white admiral butterfly, Limenitis glorifica, should be introduced to New Zealand.  Field records in Japan indicate that the caterpillars will not damage plants other than honeysuckles in New Zealand, and this has been confirmed by laboratory testing.  The butterfly has several generations each year, and (like monarchs) the caterpillars can heavily damage the foliage.

    The Honshu white admiral is not to be confused with the Eurasian white admiral (L. camilla) which has a slightly wider host range.

    An application to introduce the Honshu white admiral will probably be lodged in Late February, and Greater Wellington Regional Council will be the applicant. This will lay out all of the evidence for and against the introduction for the EPA to consider when making its decision.  On their behalf I am asking for public input on this proposal for inclusion in the application.  I am sure many of you will have opinions, and l look forward to reading them and responding on this forum.

    If you want more to learn more about the project, go to

Viewing 15 replies - 26 through 40 (of 40 total)
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    EPA and their predecessor ERMA do approve the release of new biocontrol agents from time to time but they are usually fairly small and inconspicuous compared with White Admirals. One that was approved in the last few years was for the control of Buddleja which although non native does have some positive values as we all know!

    In the last few years I have met White Admirals of several species in the UK, US and Canada and they are delightful beasts. However, the question of impact on other native and non native plant species needs to be fully considered.

    So on the one hand there is an equally delightful shrubby, as opposed to climbing, Lonicera fragrantissima that I have seen in bloom in Washbourn Gardens, Richmond in early September feeding dozens of Monarchs. Its palatibility to L. glorifica has not I believe been tested. However, I doubt that the loss of this species would be a major problem for Monarchs as the plant is rarely encountered, at least hereabouts.

    Of more concern are comments in an appendix to the application provided by Dr Toni Withers, Scion, Rotorua who
    “reviewed the information presented by Landcare Research on their website namely “Assessment of the host range of the white admiral butterfly, Limenitis glorifica

    Fruhstorfer (Nymphalidae), a biological control agent for Japanese honeysuckle” completed by Dr Quentin Paynter as well as the “Application to release from containment new organisms” completed by Richard Hill.’

    Dr Withers concluded by stating:

    “In light of the lack of native Caprifoliaceae, the lower than ideal sample sizes and lower than ideal replication of the host testing undertaken here can probably be accepted, where in other biological control projects such low experimental replication would probably be deemed unacceptable. Therefore Richard Hill’s interpretations of the risk posed by L. glorifica

    to these weedy and ornamental species appear to be conservative and entirely appropriate to the data that I have scrutinised.’

    The first sentence is the one that concerns me as I take it to suggest there are no plants in the honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae) native to New Zealand. Whereas Allen’s “Flora of New Zealand) Vol 1 lists 8 species of Alseuosmia as members of that family. Among these are uncommon and interesting plants that mimic the appearance of foliage of Horopito (Pseudowintera colorata) to deter browsing (presumably by Moa). Now the chance that plants in this genus might be palatable and selected by White Admirals is indeed slim. It ought to be considered and tested in my humble opinion.



    The Honshu White Admiral will definitely not end up like the Stoat in causing huge problems to native Flora and Fauna. That said, neither will it decimate the Honeysuckle it is intended to attack. It will have a limited effect that along with other measures such as Chemical control will have a better outcome overall. It’s nice to think that if they go ahead with this release you could end up with another species to add to the few Butterflies you have in New Zealand.



    Whilst I am an avid gardener and have grown honeysuckle once or twice over the years, BUT, I would sacrifice all honeysuckles and be happy to never again grow any plant if I thought that it posed a major threat to our NZ native habit.

    I briefly perused the links and research , but did not have time to look over ALL the research. I am naturally suspicious about the introduction of any species for control of another, especially where I’m unsure of the research. I had a brief look at it, and as an example one study was carried between Nov2004 and Apr 2005. This isn’t a long time for a study, and whilst I realise the issue of spreading honeysuckle is important and pressing, never forget the the stoat was introduced to control the rabbit, and wasn’t even interested in rabbits whilst there were flightless birds on the menu.

    I’m ambivalent on the introduction on this butterfly until I have read more research



    I think it would be a good idea. It would also generate more interest in the butterflies we already have, as its a different one for people to be looking out for as it spreads throughout the country:)




    Hi Jacqui

    It’s a very difficult to think of good reasons to introduce another species to anywhere in the world where it’s not native or arrives on it’s own through migration. Many introductions by man have had a down side attached to the benefits gained. I remember reading somewhere, probably on this site that the powers that be in New Zealand tried to breed the White Admiral limenitis camilla in captivity as another species to control Honeysuckle. I am not surprised they failed as even very skilled lepidoptrists have failed with this species. However as it is far more selective in it’s habitat than the Honshu White, maybe if the Honshu White is released and does not become a problem they could release the White Admiral as well adding yet another species to your Butterflies.



    Does anyone have any further comments to make ? If we are to make a submission are there other points of interest?



    If the MBNZT is to make a submission regarding this butterfly’s introduction, what points should we make? Are we against it or for it? Terry has made some good points, but what other points should we make.

    * The scientists must be absolutely confident that it will not affect NZ’s indigenous species, or introduced species that are part of our primary products, e.g. cherries.

    * There are few butterfly species in NZ so another butterfly flying around would be good value in that it will surely arouse the excitement and enthusiasm for insect life and Nature in general.

    Additional comments welcomed.



    I really hope they allow this Butterfly to be introduced to New Zealand as it will give you another species to add to the list of Butterflies you have as resident. If it’s anything like our White Admiral you will have something very Beautiful to watch in flight.



    Application to release Limenitis glorifica for control of Japanese honeysuckle

    We have received an application from Greater Wellington Regional Council for the release of Limenitis glorifica for control of Japanese honeysuckle. You have indicated that you wish to be informed of this type of application. 

    Relevant application documents including the Application Summary, the Full Application  and the E & R report can be found on our website http://www.epa.govt.nz/consultations/new-organisms. The number for this application is APP201710.

    This application meets our criteria to be open for submission from members of the public and relevant agencies. The submission period opens on 6 May 2013 and closes on 18 June 2013, which is the last date we will accept submissions. Submissions may be forwarded by email to submissions@epa.govt.nz or by post to:

    Applications and Assessment: New Organisms
    Environmental Protection Authority
    Private Bag 63002
    Wellington 6140

    Information on the submission process, including information that we require in your submission can be found on our website http://www.epa.govt.nz/about-us/have-your-say. All submissions will be considered, regardless of whether or not you present your submission at a public hearing.

    Once received your submission becomes a public document and may be made publicly available to anyone who requests it.  You may request to keep your contact details confidential. Keeping your contact details confidential means that your name will appear in our advice report as a submitter but your contact details will not be available to other submitters or the applicant.

    Once the submission period closes, a public hearing may be necessary if the Environmental Protection Authority considers it is necessary or if requested by either the applicant or a submitter. Please contact us on 04 916 2426 or submissions@epa.govt.nz if you wish to discuss the decision-making process, would like a copy of the application posted to you, would like to receive these notifications via email, or wish to be removed from our mailing list.


    Kind Regards

    Graham Young

    Applications Administrator

    New Organisms

    Environmental Protection Authority



    One would wonder how effective they will be at reducing the honeysuckle when the caterpillars themselves will become more food for the birds, the parasitoids Pteromalus puparum, Echthromorpha intricatoria, and Cotesia glomeratus, plus the other predators like praying mantids, spiders and paper wasps.  But I would welcome another butterfly to add to our meagre collection of NZ butterflies, the Bay of Plenty countryside where I live is rife with the Japanese honeysuckle so it could be one of the areas marked for release if the approval is granted.



    Hi Jacqui

    Do you really believe they will allow it’s introduction to New Zealand or is it typical government hype? I would have thought that with all the other creatures and plants that have found there way to New Zealand and caused problems they would be too nervous to really go ahead with this. Personally I can’t see as it would cause any harm but then I realise that with travel becoming easier and the huge movement of people and goods around the world it is impossible to protect ones shores completely.

    The UK is so porous at it’s borders, everything seems to find a way in, but despite the media scare stories no real harm is ever done and our countryside is so irreversibly damaged by Human activity it’s a waste of effort even worrying about these things. Only those who live in a fantasy world really believe they can reverse the problem. A colleague of mine has a friend who worked out for a research project the ideal population for the UK where we could live in a sustainable equilibria with nature and that figure was 15 million. We have 67 million already and it’s still rising at a phenomenal rate. Food for thought?

    What about the Large White Butterfly? Have they managed to eradicate it yet or is it still showing up?



    I wouldn’t have thought that the honeysuckle is a “killer” vine, either. Wonder what it has killed…



    It appears it has turned in to Vanessa Atalanta. I would have thought the best mistake to make would have been to turn it in to Vanessa Indica which at least is actually found in Japan



    Great reporting on behalf of ZB… look at how the “White” Admiral has changed. (I have asked them to correct it, so by the time you see this link it may well have been changed. Will post picture as well.


    Picture they’d used:



    Hello Richard – I would welcome that butterfly here – have loads of honeysuckle which invades my garden from next door.

    We will be interested in the outcome.

    Great photograph of this butterfly here:

    Limenitis glorifica


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