Helping our local butterflies

With lots of talk about the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary it could be easily forgotten that the coast in the north doesn’t have anything to offer but birds.

Over the past few years works to better understand and manage two coastal butterfly species have been undertaken through the federally funded Samphire Coast Icon Project of the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board and BirdLife Australia.

A study concerning the Bitter-bush Blue Butterfly and its host plant the Coast Bitter-Bush is currently being undertaken to develop an action plan to maintain sustainable populations of both the host plant and butterfly.

The host plant is at risk in the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges region due to urbanisation and agricultural development and the Bitter-bush blue butterfly requires the plant to lay eggs and as food for the caterpillar.

Once finalised, this action plan will help land managers and conservation groups to plan works and projects focusing on maintaining stable populations of both species.

The Yellowish Sedge-Skipper butterfly hasn’t been seen on the northern Adelaide plains for a number of years and is thought to be locally extinct.

A recovery plan for the species was written in 2000 and a review and an assessment of works undertaken after the recovery plan were completed in 2014.

Since the review, a significant investment has been made to recreate sedgelands of Thatching Grass, which the butterfly requires to lay eggs and as food for the caterpillar, whilst also reviewing benefits of Thatching Grass in a horticultural setting.

Now, through the Samphire Coast Icon Project, studies are currently underway looking at the feasibility of re-introducing this butterfly and indentifying potential donor populations from the Yorke Peninsula where the butterfuly still exists.

These are exciting times for butterflies along the northern Adelaide coastline and just like a butterfly, our eggs have hatched, caterpillars have fed, cocoons have been built and we wait patiently to see what emerges.

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