Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Copper Butterfly monitoring dates – 31 December 2019 and 3 January 2020

Posted on 17 December, 2019 by Frances

Although the early summer weather was unfavourable for our beloved Eltham Copper Butterfly, butterflies have now been spotted out and about in Kalimna Park (Castlemaine VIC). Local ecologists and butterfly enthusiasts Elaine Bayes and Karl Just have been busy training enthusiastic volunteers in how to conduct the vital monitoring needed to help this threatened species.

In addition to the planned butterfly monitoring on Saturday 28 December 2019,  Karl and Elaine have now scheduled a further monitoring day on Friday 3 January 2020.

This is a fantastic opportunity to get out in the bush, learn more about your local environment, and collect some really important data to help protect this beautiful threatened species. You might even discover a new population of this special butterfly!

Castlemaine’s Kalimna Park is home to the largest remaining population of the threatened Eltham Copper Butterfly in the world. However, we don’t know how many butterflies there currently are, and its entirely possible that other, undiscovered populations exist around the Castlemaine area. Our aim is to support interested community members to learn how to monitor with expert guidance, conduct more monitoring and (hopefully) discover new butterfly populations.

Monitoring dates and locations:

  • 10 am-2 pm Tuesday 31 December 2019. Location: Water tank on Hunter Track, top end of Hunter Street, Kalimna Park, Castlemaine VIC
  • 12-4 pm Friday 3 January 2020. Location: Corner of Vanstan Road and Lawson Parade, behind Castlemaine Secondary College, Castlemaine VIC

Please book for this event – click here


Everyone is invited to get involved. Monitoring isn’t difficult but you will need:

  • A reasonable level of physical fitness, as monitoring involves walking off-track through the bush, often in warm weather.
  • A positive attitude and willingness to learn.
  • Ability to read maps, follow simple procedures and record sightings.

To learn more about this wonderful and interesting little butterfly, including ecology, distribution and information on how to identify this species from similar look-alike butterflies – click here. It would be terrific to find some new populations in our region and this is the perfect opportunity to survey some excellent butterfly habitat. You don’t need to attend all these events to be a monitor. Once you understand the monitoring method and feel confident you can identify an Eltham Copper Butterfly, you’re welcome to do your own monitoring and report sightings.

Please enjoy the video below, courtesy of the N-danger-D Youtube Channel, that has some excellent footage of this wonderful butterfly and symbiotic ant species.

If you’d like to get involved in Eltham Copper Butterfly monitoring, please book in to a monitoring event, or for further information contact Ivan at Connecting Country ( 


2 responses to “Copper Butterfly monitoring dates – 31 December 2019 and 3 January 2020”

  1. Roy Lovel says:

    I was interested to read that butterfly lays eggs on a dwarfed form of the Bursaria spinosa. Is this a sub species of dwarfed form of Bursaria spinosa or is the dwarfing due to other factors?

    • Jacqui says:

      Hi Roy,

      Great questions, thanks!! Sweet Bursaria as a plant is highly variable in morphology across its range. Currently there is not a recognised subspecies of Bursaria that is dwarfing. There is a general consensus that there is no genetic difference in our local Bursaria spinosa subspecies spinosa, although the issue warrants further investigation and research as none has been conducted yet.

      Eltham Copper Butterflies have been observed on Bursaria plants, large and small. The caterpillars show a preference for ridgelines and it is thought this is due to the amount of sunlight available. A connection could be made between this and the poorer soils and less moisture available, leading to smaller plants. There is also another line of thought suggesting that the presence of ants create air pockets around the roots of the Bursaria leading to smaller or stunted plants. The truth is we don’t know all of the ins and outs of this issue but are waiting keenly for new information!!

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