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A butterfly haven in the Bay

  • 1.  A butterfly haven in the Bay

    Posted 19-06-2023 08:29

    Liz Gliszczynski, Georgie Custance, Molly Fisher and Pam Dodsworth have been engaged in the Otways butterfly project at Apollo Bay, creating a special garden for residents to explore.

    Butterfly Haven

    Apollo Bay locals can spread their wings and learn more about butterflies, with the transformation of a community space into a haven to attract the colourful creatures.

    Threatened Species Conservancy and Southern Otway Landcare Network invited community members to a working bee for a makeover of Apollo Bay Senior Citizens Centre's garden.

    Toddlers, retirees and residents of all ages in-between braved the rain getting their hands dirty to create paths and drop plants as part of TSC's Otway butterfly project.

    TSC ecologist Georgie Custance said this month's effort was another milestone for the project, which took shape last year after the group earned funding through Coast Care Victoria.

    Georgie said the project aimed to learn more about how butterflies behaved in the Otways and ways to attract them. 

    "The project aims to increase our understanding of butterfly communities in the region and engage with the community to learn about native butterflies and their hostplants," she said.

    "The project initially undertook surveys over the last butterfly season and recorded multiple species never confirmed in this part of the world before.

    "Some of these confirmations were done by community citizen scientists who uploaded their butterfly sightings to the fantastic iNaturalist app, which anyone can use.

    "The project also delivered a community butterfly workshop over the summer, which taught people all the different species you would expect to see, how to record them for science and all about the hostplants that each species prefer."

    Georgie said community engagement during the project so far was overwhelming, particularly during this month's garden work at the senior citizens precinct.

    She said the revamped garden would hopefully be an asset to the busy public space.

    "So many people came to help out, it was an amazing effort," Georgie said.

    "We use this space so much, there are so many different workshops and there's playgroup here and things like that.

    "By encouraging butterflies to the garden, we will increase the amount of healthy native habitat for our beautiful native butterflies, create a community space where butterflies can be admired, and learn about their lifecycles and hostplants."

    Georgie said the presence of native butterflies in the back yard were signs of a thriving garden.

    "Not only are butterflies beautiful, but they are important pollinators and are bioindicators," she said.

    "If you have lots of native butterfly species flying around, it means the ecosystem is healthy."

    Georgie encouraged locals keen to attract native butterflies to their garden to learn more through Landcare. Plants for the senior citizens centre project came from Southern Otway Landcare Network's Shrub Club Community Garden.

    "Some butterfly species are actually quite fussy," she said.

    "The adult butterfly will only lay their eggs on a particular plant which the caterpillar feed on.

    "These plants are called hostplants. Some species may depend entirely on one hostplant, whereas others may have a range of hostplants.

    "We have done this by carefully selecting the hostplants of species that are native to the area."

    Georgie said work on the garden would continue throughout the year, with information signs to be installed for community members to explore.

    She said TSC intern and Bay product Molly Fisher had played a key role in the Otways butterfly project since joining the team.

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    Emily Mason
    Sydney NSW