Purple Copper Butterfly

Volunteers rally to protect one of Australia’s rarest butterflies

Local and visiting volunteers have all pitched in to build habitat for the endangered purple copper butterfly in Sunny Corner State Forest on the western side of the Blue Mountains in NSW.

One of the rarest butterflies in Australia, the purple copper butterfly feeds on one rare species of plant (Bursaria spinosa subsp. lasiophylla), in a very cold environment and has a symbiotic relationship with an ant species (Anonychomyra itinerans). The ants take the larvae up to the Bursaria plant to feed during the day and return them to their nests of a night, keeping them safe from predators. The ants get a sweet nectar from the caterpillars in return.

This iconic species is only found in the Central Tablelands of NSW and is getting a helping hand thanks to a partnership between Forestry Corporation of NSW, Conservation Volunteers Australia and Local Land Services.

Forestry Corporation have hosted the volunteer group to remove invasive English broom and plant native habitat species.

Our Regional Manager in Western Sydney, Suzie Wright, said the project is a fantastic example of the value of volunteers.

“We have a team of eight people from the local area, the Blue Mountains and Sydney who have eagerly come to protect our environment,” Ms Wright said.

“Not only are they removing threats and improving the local habitat, they are also monitoring for butterfly population changes. This vital information is given to the Office of Environment and Heritage to support the Saving Our Species program.”

Forestry Corporation of NSW’s Community Programs Coordinator Nikki Bennetts said the volunteers should be congratulated for what they are doing.

“We were thrilled with the zeal and dedication of these volunteers. They are actively protecting one of our iconic native species and getting to experience the beauty of our forests,” Ms Bennetts said.

“We’d also like to thank Local Land Services and the National Landcare Program for supplying native blackthorn seedlings for the plantings—these tiny butterflies are valuable to many people and organisations.”

If you’d like to get involved, volunteer opportunities are available every week – view our current projects and book online today.

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Photo at top of page supplied by Local Land Services, volunteer photos provided by Sue-Ellen Smith.