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Noxious weed control benefiting Purple Copper Butterfly

Work is well and truly underway in Lithgow to control weeds at several sites and help protect the endangered Purple Copper Butterfly.

Known to occur at a number of locations in and around Lithgow, weeds pose a real threat to this small but attractive insect.

"Weeds such as Broom while potentially providing a food source for the butterfly can grow at densities that it make it hard for the butterfly to move freely around its habitat.  They can also outcompete native plants which the butterfly relies on", explained Senior Local Land Services Officer, Huw Evans.

"Dense weed infestations are especially problematic around breeding season.  If the males can't move around the site, they find it more difficult to pair up with females".

The Central Tablelands Local Land Services are working with Lithgow City Council, Lithgow Oberon Landcare Association, Upper Macquarie County Council and the Office of Environment and Heritage to re-visit some of the butterfly sites identified in the species Recovery Plan and undertake some additional weed control that was started in the early 2000s.

"Working closely with Upper Macquarie County Council to prioritise some of their noxious weed control work to benefit the butterfly has been our focus for a couple of years now", said Huw.

"More recently, Lithgow City Council has teamed up with Skillset to get a Green Army Team working in Lithgow.  This has enabled us to use participants, with the help of professional contractors, to undertake some of the more detailed work in core habitat areas where high-volume spraying is inappropriate".

"The butterfly, about the size of a 10 cent piece occurs only in the Central Tablelands", says Huw Evans.  "Like other species closely related to it, it has a very specific relationship with a variety of Blackthorn and an ant that protects its larvae.  Without these factors working in combination, the butterfly won't occur".

The Save Our Species program (which aims to secure nearly 1000 threatened species in the wild for the next 100 years) is providing support for community-run projects where direct and real benefits can be gained in the most cost effective ways"

Office of Environment and Heritage's Community Engagement Officer, Andy McQuie said; "Weed invasion is one of the main threats to the success of the Purple Copper Butterfly project, so funding this work is an obvious choice".

"There are still several private properties around Lithgow we would like to re-visit to try and get some more work done." explained Huw.  "The Central Tablelands Local Land Services are also starting to look at burning as a recovery tool based on some previous trials.  This has been shown to stimulate Blackthorn regeneration and greatly benefit the butterfly"

This project is funded by the Central Tablelands Local Land Services with support from the Australian Government and the Office of Environment and Heritage through the Saving our Species Program.

For more information about this project contact Huw Evans on phone: 02 6350 3117 or email: huw.evans@lls.nsw.gov.au

Media contact: Kylie Krause on 0439 608370 | kylie.krause@lls.nsw.gov.au