As Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway construction got underway in late 2020, the ecology team made an exciting discovery – a population of a rare native moth, Meterana grandiosa, in a stand of vegetation on the highway alignment. The moths were moved in their caterpillar stage as they had not yet dug themselves into the ground to pupate – so ecologists had only a short window of time in which to safely relocate the caterpillars out of the construction path.
The caterpillars were carefully resettled 500m away on an existing area of divaricating shrublands, including Olearia virgata and Olearia solandrii – the same species they were found on – providing the population with plenty of vegetation. Over the course of the project about two million native plants and shrubs will be planted across 46 hectares; 48 hectares of existing forest will be protected; 300 hectares of already protected forest reserve will have pest control measures installed; and 28kms of streams will be rehabilitated.
You can view a short video about this exciting discovery and relocation on the Te Ahu a Turanga website.