The Eltham Copper Butterfly is a small and attractive butterfly with bright copper colouring on the tops of its wings. It is only found in Victoria in a few geographically separate locations. Currently there is little knowledge on the number and distribution of Eltham Copper Butterfly within North Central Victoria.It was extinct since the 1950's until rediscovered at Eltham in 1986. It is an unusual species due to its close symbiotic association with a group of ants from the genus Notoncus and the shrub Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa).
Habitat destruction and loss is thought to be the prime reason for decline of this species; particularly loss of the Sweet Bursaria and loss of habitat supporting Notoncus species of ants. Other threats include urbanisation, weed invasion, rubbish dumping, trampling, and slashing of vegetation and grazing which can reduce ground cover species. Planned burning is also a major threat, as little is known about the effects of fire on this species.
What's being done?
Efforts to save the species are being supported by a $50,000 grant through the Victorian Government’s Biodiversity On-Ground Action Icon Species Grants program, which funds targeted actions designed to protect and conserve Victoria’s threatened species.
This funding is going towards;
- Mapping the currently known but unstudied populations recently found in Castlemaine and in the Nhill area using the potential habitat mapping method in order to establish the full extent of the populations.
- Locating new unprotected populations on public land by searching potential habitat around Castlemaine and Bendigo. Mapping new populations and consulting with public land managers to ensure protection of new populations.
- Developing communication materials such as a webpage, media articles and running one community awareness event in the Wimmera to promote protection of populations.
Conserving Victoria's threatened species requires a collaborative approach. Many organisations, groups and individuals will be invited to be involved in this project to protect the Eltham Copper Butterfly, these include:
North Central Eltham Copper Butterfly Monitoring Group
Department of Environment Land Water and Planning
Castlemaine Field Naturalist Club
Listing of Eltham Copper Butterfly under the EPBC Act
Eltham Copper Butterfly profile page - SWIFFT
Page last updated: 20/05/22