Tokelau Butterflies

The remote atolls of Tokelau have a small but colourful butterfly fauna of three species. These delicate creatures are the subject of Tokelau's latest stamp issue: Tokelau Butterflies. 

Issue information

These impressive butterfly species are widespread within Tokelau and across the South Pacific. All three species are attractive and relatively large, adding a colourful touch to Tokelau’s wildlife. They are familiar in both the villages and the surrounding, less populated areas of the coast.

The four gummed stamps in the issue feature the Blue Moon (female and male), the Common Crow and the Meadow Argus.

45c Blue Moon (female)

The Blue Moon (Hypolimnas bolina pallescens) is the most common and widespread butterfly in the tropical South Pacific, where four subspecies are recognised. The adults are sexually dimorphic, with the larger females more variable in colour. The adult butterflies of the species have wingspans between 56mm and 90mm.

$1.00 Blue Moon (male)

In addition to the Tokelau Islands, this Blue Moon subspecies ranges from Fiji and Tonga to all the islands of the Samoan Archipelago. Interestingly, this species is territorial, with the male taking up a vantage point on a tree and driving off any intruder as it awaits a passing female.

$1.40 Common Crow

The Common Crow (Euploea lewinii bourkei) is found across the Pacific, with eight subspecies recognised on different sets of islands. This subspecies is confined to Tokelau and American Samoa and is very common around the coasts of both places, where the larvae feed on fig tree foliage. The flight is slow and lazy, but when disturbed the butterfly can make a fast escape. The wingspan is between 62mm and 72mm.

$3.00 Meadow Argus

The Meadow Argus (Junonia villida) is a widespread and pretty butterfly of the tropical Pacific that was first discovered in Tonga. With a wingspan of 35mm-46mm, it delights in sunbathing on bare ground, including roads and tracks, but flies off quickly when disturbed. It generally flies close to the ground and can be very elusive.

Technical information

Date of issue:  7 August 2013
Number of stamps: Four gummed
Denominations: 45c, $1.00, $1.40 and $3.00
Stamps and first day covers designed by: New Zealand Post Ltd, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer: Collectables and Solutions Centre, New Zealand Post, Whanganui, New Zealand
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 30mm x 40mm (horizontal)
Paper type: Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet: 16
Perforation gauge: 13.33
Period of sale: Unless stocks are exhausted earlier, these stamps will remain on sale until 6 August 2014
Source: Patrick, B.H. & Patrick H.J.H 2012: Butterflies of the South Pacific. Otago University Press