Butterflies have us in a flutter, but no Silver Xenica…yet

Butterflies have us in a flutter, but no Silver Xenica…yet

On Saturday, 23 participants joined naturalist and butterfly enthusiast Bryan Haywood from ForestrySA for a day of identifying local butterflies, particularly one threatened local species – the Silver Xenica (pronounced ‘Zen-i-ka’).

Honan’s Native Forest Reserve was a beautiful setting, made even better as the sun shone and brought out the butterflies after an initial down-pour while Bryan talked us through identification, using this brilliant local butterfly guide  (applicable to the entire South East), and Xenica ID fact sheet he put together.

Ready to ID some local butterflies….

…Bryan Haywood shows participants what to keep an eye out for

A stroll around Honan’s got our eye in, with Marbled Xenicas, Common Browns, Shouldered Browns, Common Grass Blues, Australian Admirals and Barred Grass-skippers all found…but no Silver Xenicas.

Taking a closer look at a Shouldered brown butterfly

The day was particularly about the Silver Xenica – an endangered small orange-brown butterfly (>25mm in wingspan) which flits around damp forest environments in places like Piccaninnie ponds and Honan’s in Autumn (February-April).

A Silver Xenica butterfly (Photo: Bryan Haywood)

The larvae feed on soft native grasses. It was first found in SA back in the 1970’s at Piccaninnie Ponds, then in 2006 Bryan discovered a new colony near Glencoe. It is only known from three populations in SA – all in the South East – but since 2007 it has not been seen. Has it become locally extinct? Did the 2006-2008 drought seal its fate?

Some of the group on the look out in Honan’s

The day was capped off with a delicious lunch thanks to the lovely ladies from the Mount Gambier Women’s Work Depot, and a quick survey of Kangaroo Flat Native Forest Reserve before the rain settled in.

The day signals the start of further surveys happening across the Silver Xenica’s known and potential South East range over the next couple of weeks to see if we can rediscover this rare little gem. Contact Bryan Haywood on (08) 8724 2765 if you’d like further information.

A big thank you to Bryan for sharing his knowledge, giving us a great excuse to get out in the local bush, meet some like-minded people and learn something new.

April brings us more ‘Up Close’ events – Friday 5 April is a talk on one of most elusive reptiles – the Eared Worm Lizard with Mark Hutchinson, SA Museum Curator of Reptiles in Millicent; Fossils, Megafauna and Climate Change talk and guided walk  at two events with Dr. Liz Reed, Palaeontologist, Flinders University and; Sunday 21 April, 3pm-5:30pm at the Pavilion in Warrnambool is your chance to hear about how the Middle Island Little Penguin colony is doing, plus meet the Maremma dogs who care for them!

For more details for these and other upcoming events, click here

Can you find the Common Grass Blue Butterfly?

A hard days work. Next time we’ll find you, Silver Xenica!

Becky McCann