Kenmore Birdwing Butterfly Project
Ava Webster of Kenmore Girl Guides was recently granted a $500 Roots & Shoots Mini Grant to provide habitat for the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly. This is the largest subtropical butterfly in Australia found within a 500km distribution along Eastern Australia. It is classed as vulnerable. The issue with the species is not just habitat loss. Though the adult butterflies feed on various nectar producing plants, the larvae are reliant on only two species. One of these host plants looks remarkably similar to an introduced and invasive poisonous weed – and this has caused major decline of the species as the caterpillars die from eating the plant.
This project really was a team effort. To complete the project, Ava’s group had to find the best location for the vines, buy the vines and plant them. Matt Cecil from Queensland Wildlife Protection Society chatted to Girl Guides about butterflies, instructing them on how to plant and care for the vines. Brisbane City Council provided the soil, water crystals, fertiliser, mulch and bamboo poles to help the vine project, and rallied a group of volunteers together to help too. The girls bought 82 vines from the Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network who also provided helpful advice.
Finally, Ava contacted another group of important people who had inspired her. The issues impacting this beautiful butterfly were first realised in 1989 by a bunch of people two hours south of where Ava’s project was being undertaken. Ava contacted this group, and they also came to assist in the planting, demonstrating a wonderful intergenerational response to conservation!
Now that the vines are in, the team will continue caring for them and Ava hopes to engage further with the local community to encourage people to plant the specific host plants. From this project, the Girls Guides gained valuable team work skills, and a greater awareness of environmental issues – and the caterpillars gained their vital food source, so we can look forward to seeing them flying around soon. We think this is an inspiring story – and so does Australian Geographic Magazine – a leading environmental publication – so much so that you can now read more about it in the current issue!.Excellent work!