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New Zealand Insects - photos

New Zealand Weta photo
New Zealand Red Admiral photo
Monarch Butterfly photo
Yellow Admiral photo

About New Zealand Insects

New Zealand has a rich variety of insects with around 20,000 species. Due to a predominate temperate climate, insects tend to be smaller and less colourful than what you see in sub-tropical to tropical islands to the north. Many insects also live under ground.

A huge 90% of species are endemic to New Zealand so many are unigue and like no other species in the world. The most renown would have to be the Weta of which there are about 70 known species. Wetas are large grasshopper like insects but are frightening in appearance due to their exoskeleton being covered in stripes and spikes. They can inflict a painful bite you if you pick them up, but are relatively hamless otherwise.

The most unwelcome insect is the sandfly mainly due to their abundance and the fact that their bite leaves you with an itchy bump on your skin. In wet areas like Fiordland, sandflies are so abundant that they group together in swarms that look like black clouds.

New Zealand has some beautiful butterflies but much less so than neighbouring Australia. There are less than 20 native species, The New Zealand Red Admiral is arguably the most beautiful. Monarchs are also common. They migrated from North America in the 1870s.

Cicadas can be heard in the summer. Their chorus can get very loud on a hot day. There are about 40 native species.

The huhu beetle is a large insect. The larvae live inside dead rimu or pine. These grubs can be as big as a human finger and make a tasty meal for the kaka. They were also once eaten by Maori. 


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Author & photographer: David Johnson (Virtual Oceania)

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