River

Butterflies, sandalwood and sand hills

Spotted Jezebel butterflies are hatching on southern sandalwood (Santalum leptocladum) trees on a property on the Richardson’s Lagoon sand hills near Torrumbarry.

The Spotted Jezebel butterfly has an association with parasitic plants like sandalwood, Exocarpus species (cherry ballart), quandong and mistletoe, as their caterpillars rely on the leaves of this group of species.

Landholder Tuesday Browell, who is involved in the Sand Ridge Woodland Project, said she noticed the butterflies hatching on the branches of the trees while out walking recently.

“There is such a diversity of nature on our property, we just happened to be at the right place at the right time to see the Jezebels hatching; that’s the marvel of nature, you have to keep your eye out or you miss it,”  Ms Browell said.

Goulburn Broken CMA Landscape Restoration Officer Jim Begley said he was excited to hear about the discovery.   

“This is a really good local example of how the loss of a native flora species in the landscape can have a dramatic impact on the survival of an insect species,” Mr Begley said

The Sand Ridge Woodland Project aims to protect the cultural heritage values of sand hills across Yorta Yorta Country, and to protect and enhance the native vegetation communities that are unique to sand ridges in the Goulburn and Murray valleys.

“We are targeting sand hills on public and private land, protecting the cultural heritage values of these areas and putting back some of the rare and interesting plant species that were once found in these threatened vegetation communities,”  Mr Begley said.

“We’re hopeful that putting back some of the plant species that we know have been missing from the landscape for some time will lead to more diverse flora communities, which will support more fauna species and lead to a more resilient ecosystem in the long term.” 

The project is funded by the Australian Government and is being delivered by the Goulburn Broken CMA and Murray Local Land Services, Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation, Parks Victoria, NSW Parks and Wildlife Service and North Central CMA.  

If you have sand hills on your property and wish to be involved in the Sand Ridge Woodland Project please contact Jim Begley on 03 5764 7503 to organise an obligation free site visit.