Nearly 90 percent of all plants need a pollinator to reproduce, and as bee populations drop, the role of the butterfly / pūrerehua becomes even more vital. Without these wonderful insects, many plant species would then be unable to reproduce and their populations would dramatically decrease without the butterfly’s presence. We would see this effect many plant species, including flowers we love. This loss of plant life would affect both animals and humans.
Butterflies also help with genetic variation in the plant species that they collect nectar from. Many species of butterflies migrate over long distances, which allows pollen to be shared across groups of plants that are far apart from one another. This helps plants to be more resilient against disease and gives them a better chance at survival.
There are over 230,000 species of butterflies and moths in the world. An amazing and breath-taking biodiversity. From half an inch to 12 inches across, they live on average 2 weeks.
We know the status of only about 1% of all these species, but most of them are constantly in danger of disappearing. Habitat loss is one of the leading causes of species decline. A recent study estimates that butterflies’ populations halved in the past decade only. In 20 years, the population of the Western Monarch butterfly declined by 98%.
Butterflies symbolise a powerful beacon of growth and new beginnings, the butterfly signifies the power of transformation and the incredible feats we can achieve when we trust ourselves.
Wairua atua (supernatural spirit) is a name applied to butterflies by Māori. Māori belief is that the wairua of the dead sometimes appeared in the form of moths, a belief that is also met with in Polynesia ; while the Shans of Burmah maintain that the human soul leaves the body in the form of a butterfly.
In Māori, ‘te aitanga pepeke’ means the insect world. It includes mosquitoes, butterflies and moths, sandflies, cicadas, midges, stick insects and centipedes. Frogs, spiders, lizards, and other small creatures also belong to this group. Insects appear in many sayings, such as ‘the little grub destroys the pūriri tree’. This reminds us that even tiny things can have a big impact.