Rare butterfly sighting promising sign of new population

25 Aug 22


A rare, and thought to be extinct, butterfly species has been sighted recently in native forest reserve near Mount Burr.

Nature Glenelg Trust Senior Ecologist Bryan Haywood made the lucky Silver Xenica find during a routine visit to the Overland Track Native Forest Reserve.

The Silver Xenica is the smallest butterfly in the Satyrine family.

“I couldn’t believe my luck that day,” Bryan said.

“Conditions were perfectly sunny and calm, and the butterflies were behaving as they should – wandering about in the Swamp Gum grassy woodland and wetland areas.”

As part of a project to encourage new populations of the Silver Xenica species, Nature Glenelg Trust translocated females and eggs from the Dartmoor area to the Reserve back in 2018.

“This species is our smallest butterfly in the Satyrine family,” Bryan said.

“The top of their wings is dark brown with yellow patches, and they have these amazing silver scallop shaped stripes on their underwing that you can see while they are resting.”

“This sighting at Mount Burr is a promising sign that the translocation was successful.”

OneFortyOne has partnered with Nature Glenelg Trust to support environmental work including threatened species projects such as this around plantations and across the region.

The top of Silver Xenica wings is dark brown with yellow patches.

“We wouldn’t be able to do this work if it wasn’t for the support we’ve received,” Bryan said.

“There’s always more to do.”

Bryan said invertebrates aren’t officially listed in under state parks and wildlife threatened species legislation in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

“Nominations have been prepared and forwarded to the Threatened Species Unit in South Australia in the hope that they will be considered and bring invertebrates into the public domain,”

“By listing these species it will better ensure their recognition and encourage land managers to identify and protect habitat.”

This particular population is still relatively low and unlikely to remain viable, however annual monitoring and expansion into a breeding program could bolster numbers.

OneFortyOne’s partnership with Nature Glenelg Trust began in 2013, when we helped to fund the purchase of Mt Burr Swamp Habitat Restoration Reserve. Since then, we have worked with Nature Glenelg Trust restoring habitat and biodiversity within 2,700 hectares of protected wetlands, caves and remnant vegetation.

OneFortyOne acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their deep connections to land, water, and community. We pay our respect to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all First Nations people today.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, Māori communities have a strong spiritual connection between people and the land – the wellbeing of one sustains the wellbeing of the other. We strive to build meaningful relationships with iwi as tangata whenua (people of the land/region), to be responsible intergenerational kaitiaki (stewards/guardians) of the land where our forests grow.