Rare Sighting has Butterfly Lovers A-Flutter

Butterfly enthusiasts are in a flutter after the recent sighting of the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly in Redlands in late September.

Richmond Birdwing Butterfly in Redlands in late September

The rare Richmond Birdwing Butterfly was spotted in Brisbane's bayside in late September.

A Thornlands resident saw the threatened 14-centimetre butterfly, a sighting which was later confirmed by the Department of Environment and Resource Management’s senior conservation officer Ian Gynther.

“With its size and pattern it was undoubtedly a Richmond Birdwing,” Dr Gynther said.
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“It was very exciting.”

The once-common butterfly is now classed as vulnerable, with a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium term.

Queensland Conservation Council secretary Simon Baltais said the destruction of the distinctive butterfly’s main food source, the larval food plant, and the loss of habitat is to be blamed for their declining numbers.

“Currently the environment takes second and maybe even third place in society,” he said.

“The program has been quite successful … but [the government's] commitment to threatened species is fairly atrocious.”

Mr Balthais instead praised the dedicated volunteers and locals for their commitment, praise which was echoed by Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network chairman Christine Hosking.

“I think all conservation needs to come from the community to work,” she said.

Ms Hosking said the six-year Richmond Birdwing conservation project had been a success so far.

“It’s not an overnight thing,” she said.

“But in 10 years time hopefully people will see them around the place. People get phenomenal pleasure getting in touch with nature.”

Mr Baltais said one butterfly may not matter to some people, but it was the overall community attitude that was important.

“If we continue to let these species disappear it will be a lot greyer and grottier world – one obviously that would be less interesting,” he said.

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