SPECIES: Hypochrysops piceatus — Bulloak Jewel Butterfly
CLASSIFICATION: Critically endangered
Question: What lives on a Bulloak tree, and looks like a jewel? It's the Bulloak Jewel Butterfly, Australia's second rarest butterfly only known from 2 subpopulations in south-east Queensland. The underwing of the butterfly is remarkably coloured, with spots of gold, silver green and red shining on a greyish background.
This butterfly is reli-ant on a particular species of ants, referred to as an obligate relationship, where the ant's attend-ant and protective behaviour means the butterfly is dependent on the ant for successful reproduction in the wild. The ant carries larvae to shelter and then guides or carries back to foilage until developed enough to be able to fend for themselves.
Much of the mature Bulloak host trees for the butterfly and ant have now been cleared, without which, the future of the butterfly is uncertain. Predation by birds, grazing and fire are other threats in the mix for the Bulloak Jewel Butterfly.