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Biocontrol introduction

Target pest: Lonicera japonica (Dipsacales: Caprifoliaceae) = Nintooa japonica, Japanese honeysuckle

Agent introduced: Limenitis glorifica (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae), Honshu white admiral butterfly


2010, 2013, 2014

Import source:


Import notes:

Landcare Research (2013e), Landcare Research (2015d), Paynter et al. (2017) - one shipment of larvae and several of eggs were imported from Japan in 2013, from which rearing in spring 2013 failed. A further shipment of eggs, larvae and adults from Japan in September 2014 were successfully reared and resulting adults released.

Paynter (2014) - Limenitis glorifica is endemic to the island of Honshu, Japan. It was first imported into New Zealand into containment in 2010. However, because the butterflies would not mate in containment, host-specificity testing was later undertaken in Japan.



Release details:

Landcare Research (2015d), Paynter et al. (2017) - first generation adults from 2014 importation released Oct-Dec 2014 (178 at Waikato site, 56 at Auckland site (Waiheke Island)).

Landcare Research (2016i) - harvesting for further releases from the Waikato release site, where the butterfly is established and spreading, will begin in 2016/17.

Landcare Research (2017g) - further widespread releases planned.

Landcare Research (2018d) - development of a successful captive rearing method has allowed the release of approximately 60,000 caterpillars over the 2017/18 summer at 12 sites in Nelson/ Marlborough, Wellington, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Waikato. More larvae will be reared for release in the 2018/19 summer.

Landcare Research (2018h) - 13 releases made in the year Sep 2017 - Aug 2018.

Landcare Research (2019f) - first releases in Westland, in February 2019, at two sites close to Paroa School, approximately 5km south of Greymouth. Over 1,000 caterpillars were released at one site, and an unspecified number at the other.

Kapi-Mana News (2019) - Porirua City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council released 1,500 caterpillars into Bothamley Park in Porirua (lower North Island) in February 2019.

Landcare Research (2019j, 2020h) - 16 releases made in the year Sep 2018 - Aug 2019, 19 in the year Sep 2019 - Aug 2020.

Stuff (2021a) - Taranaki Regional Council environment officers released about 100 pupae at Oakura and another 100 at Kakaramea in late December 2020. Most had successfully hatched when checked a week later.

Stuff (2021b) - Waipa District Council and Waikato RiverCare released 3,000 caterpillars near the Mangapiko Stream in Te Awamutu (Waikato region) in January 2020.

Landcare Research (2021e, 2022h, 2023f) - 14 releases made in the year Sep 2020 - Aug 2021,13 in the year Sep 2021 - Aug 2022, four in the year Sep 2022 - Aug 2023.


Landcare Research (2015d), Paynter et al. (2017) - 2nd generation adults observed January 2015 at the Waikato site, and a further generation of adults began emerging mid-March.

Landcare Research (2016b), Paynter et al. (2017) - considered established at the Waikato site as it had overwintered (as larvae) in 2015; adults observed in November 2015 and, up to several hundred metres from the release site, eggs and first instar larvae in December; in late-January 2016 and shortly later, butterflies seen 1.5 km in opposite directions from release site. At the Auckland release site there was no evidence of establishment in spring 2015.

Landcare Research (2018d) - L. glorifica has established well at the Waikato site near the Coromandel Peninsula.

Stuff (2021b) - the January 2020 releases at Te Awamutu appear to have failed. Early site monitoring showed promising results, with leaf damage moving up host plants into the surrounding canopy. But by mid-February visible leaf damage had stalled and in the last two weeks of February no caterpillars were located and new leaf damage was almost non-existent. It is likely the drought weather in the 2019-20 summer took its toll on the caterpillars. However, colonies have been established at other sites across the Waikato and in Canterbury.

Impacts on target:

Paynter (2024) - factors influencing the success of weed biocontrol agents released and established in New Zealand were investigated. Each agent’s impact on the target weed in New Zealand was assessed as ‘heavy’, ‘medium’, ‘variable’, ‘slight’ or ‘none’, where a ‘heavy’, ‘medium’ or ‘variable’ impact have all been observed to reduce populations or percentage cover of their target weed in all or part of their respective target weed ranges in New Zealand. Results showed that: (i) agents that are highly damaging in their native range were almost invariably highly damaging in New Zealand; (ii) invertebrate agents with a closely related ‘native analogue’ species are susceptible to parasitism by the parasitoids that attack their native analogues and failed to have an impact on the target weed, and (iii) agent feeding guild helped predict agent impact - in particular, agents that only attack reproductive parts of the plant (e.g., seed and flower-feeders) are unlikely to reduce weed populations. Damaging impacts of L. glorifica, a defoliating butterfly, have not been reported in its native range, it does not have a New Zealand native ecological analogue and its impact in New Zealand is assessed as ‘slight’.

Impacts on non-targets:

Landcare Research (2013e) - host-testing done in Japan due to difficulties mating butterflies in captivity in New Zealand.

Hill (2013) - the results of host-range tests carried out in Japan are strongly supported by field observations in Japan and literature records. Evidence indicates that: the fundamental or physiological host range of L. glorifica is confined within the family Caprifoliaceae; there are no New Zealand native species in this family (or even in the order the family belongs to) so there is no risk to the native flora; the host range in New Zealand will confined to a subset of species in the subfamily Caprifolioideae; moderate survival on Leycesteria Formosa in host range tests indicates this weedy species may be a suitable host for L. glorifica in New Zealand; the possibility cannot be excluded that some untested ornamental Lonicera spp. may be suitable host plants in New Zealand (though L. nitida, sold as an ornamental in New Zealand, was not attacked in tests).

Paynter (2014), Paynter et al. (2017) - fundamental host range of L. glorifica is confined to subfamilies Diervilloideae and Caprifoliodeae in the family Caprifoliaceae, which has no New Zealand representatives. Though a Japanese honeysuckle specialist, lab tests showed L. glorifica can be successfully reared on Himalayan honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa) (an invasive weed in New Zealand), and is able to attack some other ornamental climbing forms of honeysuckle with soft leaves, though attack on other species of Lonicera in Japan is extremely rare and the same is expected in New Zealand. It is not able to attack the most commonly grown ornamental Lonicera (L. nitida).

EPA Applications:

EPA (2009a) - 16 Feb 2009: application by Landcare Research to assess the insects, Bhadorcosma lonicerae, Apha aequalis, Limenitis camilla, Limenitis glorifica, Oberea mixta and Zaraea lewisii as potential biological control agents for the weed Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) in New Zealand. EPA application #NOC09001, approved with controls 30 Mar 2009.

EPA (2013a) - 3 May 2013: application by Greater Wellington Regional Council to import and release L. glorifica as a biocontrol agent for Japanese honeysuckle. EPA Application # APP201710, approved without controls 8 Aug 2013.


EPA (2009a). EPA application NOC09001 to import into containment the insects Bhadorcosma lonicerae, Apha aequalis, Limenitis camilla, Limenitis glorifica, Oberea mixta and Zaraea lewisii to assess their potential as biological control agents for the weed Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) in New Zealand. Environmental Protection Authority website https://www.epa.govt.nz/database-search/hsno-application-register/view/NOC09001

EPA (2013a). EPA application APP201710: to import and release Limenitis glorifica as a biocontrol agent for Japanese honeysuckle. Environmental Protection Authority website https://www.epa.govt.nz/database-search/hsno-application-register/view/APP201710

Hill R. (2013). Application to EPQ (APP201710) to import and release Limenitis glorifica as a biocontrol agent for Japanese honeysuckle. Environmental Protection Authority website https://www.epa.govt.nz/assets/FileAPI/hsno-ar/APP201710/2f01414506/APP201710-APP201710-Application-Form.pdf

Kapi-Mana News (2019). Butterfly army. Kapi-Mana News, Tuesday March 12, 2019. Porirua community newspaper.

Landcare Research (2013e). Japanese butterfly to be released soon. What's new in biological control of weeds? 66: 4 http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/newsletters/biological-control-of-weeds/issue-66

Landcare Research (2015d). Honshu butterflies take off at last! What's new in biological control of weeds? 71: 2-3 http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/newsletters/biological-control-of-weeds/issue-71

Landcare Research (2016b). White admiral butterfly establishes. Weed Biocontrol: What's New? 75: 6 http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/newsletters/biological-control-of-weeds/issue-75

Landcare Research (2016i). Who's who in biological control of weeds? Weed Biocontrol: What's New? 77: 10-11 http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/newsletters/biological-control-of-weeds/issue-77

Landcare Research (2017g). Who's who in biological control of weeds? Weed Biocontrol: What's New? 81: 10-11 https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/newsletters/biological-control-of-weeds/issue-81

Landcare Research (2018d). Japanese butterfly takes flight. Weed Biocontrol: What's New? 84, May 2018 https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/newsletters/biological-control-of-weeds/issue-84/japanese-butterfly-takes-flight

Landcare Research (2018h). Biocontrol agents released in 2017/18. Weed Biocontrol: What's New? 85, August 2018 https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/newsletters/biological-control-of-weeds/issue-85/biocontrol-agents-released-in-201718

Landcare Research (2019f). Butterflies go west. Weed Biocontrol: What's New? 88, May 2019. https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/newsletters/biological-control-of-weeds/weed-biocontrol-issue-88/butterflies-go-west

Landcare Research (2019j). Biocontrol agents released in 2018/19. Weed Biocontrol: What's New? 89, August 2019 https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/newsletters/biological-control-of-weeds/weed-biocontrol-issue-89/biocontrol-agents-released-in-201819

Landcare Research (2020h). Further reading and agents released table. Weed Biocontrol: What's New? 93, Aug 2020. https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/weed-biocontrol/weed-biocontrol-articles/further-reading-and-agents-released-table/

Landcare Research (2021e). Further reading and agents released. Weed Biocontrol: What's New? 97, August 2021 https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/weed-biocontrol/weed-biocontrol-articles/further-reading

Landcare Research (2022h). Further reading and agents released 2021/22. Weed Biocontrol: What's New? 101, August 2022 https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/weed-biocontrol/weed-biocontrol-articles/further-reading-and-agents-released-202122/

Landcare Research (2023f). Further reading and biocontrol agents released in 2022/23. Weed Biocontrol: What's New? 105, August 2023. https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/weed-biocontrol/weed-biocontrol-articles/further-reading-and-agents-released

Paynter Q (2014). Honshu white admiral: Limenitis glorifica. The Biological Control of Weeds Book - Te Whakapau Taru: A New Zealand Guide (Landcare Research) [Updated 2021] https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/discover-our-research/biodiversity-biosecurity/weed-biocontrol/projects-agents/biocontrol-agents/japanese-honeysuck/

Paynter Q (2024). Prioritizing candidate agents for the biological control of weeds. Biological Control, Volume 188, January 2024, Article Number 105396 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2023.105396

Paynter QE, Konuma A, Dodd SL, Hill RL, Field L, Gourlay AH and Winks CJ. (2017). Prospects for biological control of Lonicera japonica (Caprifoliaceae) in New Zealand. Biological Control 105: 56-65

Stuff (2021a). Regional council releases Japanese butterfly in Taranaki to control weeds. Stuff news & media website, 19 Jan 2021 https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/300205770/regional-council-releases-japanese-butterfly-in-taranaki-to-control-weeds

Stuff (2021b). Caterpillar army defeated during battle of the Japanese Honeysuckle in Te Awamutu. Stuff news & media website, 7 March 2021 https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/124440039/caterpillar-army-defeated-during-battle-of-the-japanese-honeysuckle-in-te-awamutu