SPECIES: Paralucia pyrodiscus lucida — Eltham Copper Butterfly
This week's profile is a dainty little butterfly, finding itself in quite a pickle, listed on the endangered list. The Eltham Copper Butterfly is found in eastern Australia, from central Queensland through to eastern NSW and into western Victoria. They live for long periods of time, but are less active during the winter months when they 'rest'. They feed on only one particular species of plants and have an intricate relationship with a particular species of ants. When the larvae hatch from their eggs they make their way to the ant nest, where they are guarded - if you like - by the ants. In return, as the larvae feed off the plant leaves, the ants are rewarded with the sugary secretions from the caterpillars' bodies.
The Eltham Cooper Butterfly was thought to be extinct in the 1950s, a colony was discovered in 1987 in Melbourne. Populations have declined due to loss of habitat and fire. A small and exciting win recently for the species with a population discovered in remnant bushland in 2020. It has a long way to go.
Photo: Department of Land, Water and Planning (Vic