Butterflies for Biodiversity

By Connie Savage

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The famous butterfly walk at Woodford Folk Festival Photo by Connie Savage

Wandering around Woodford Folk Festival you may have noticed areas with large colourful signs emblazoned with the message: ‘RESERVED FOR BUTTERFLIES.’

Although many people love butterflies, few understand the important role they play in the health of insect biodiversity.

With around 60 species of butterflies native to the area, The Butterfly Project has created specific habitats across Woodfordia that cater to their needs.

This includes food plants at the welcome walk, a dam habitat at the butterfly wetland, a selection of butterfly plantings at amenities blocks and specific plants to encourage breeding.

Project leader, Peter Macqueen, said these habitats, although created for butterflies,  contribute to healthier biodiversity for all creatures.

“In the course of providing these butterflies with habitat, we’re also providing for an enormous range of invertebrates,” he said.

“This includes small moths, beetles and insects that not only feed on plants but assist in their life cycles, in turn providing food for other creatures.”

Mr Macqueen said the project is also a great educational tool.

“We run guided butterfly walks with people from as far away as Sydney and Adelaide coming along,” Mr Macqueen said.

“We want to inspire them to really think about what they plant in their gardens. It’s about providing food for the caterpillars rather than just the flowers to attract adult butterflies.

“And, the more people who plant those host plants, the greater chance you’ll get some interesting visitors to your garden.”

With only a small core group of people who work on the project, Mr Macqueen said the contributions of volunteers and festival-goers is essential.

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Improving the environment for butterflies has wide benefits. Photo by Connie Savage

“At Woodford, there’s the opportunity to purchase a tree ribbon that provides funding towards not just buying another plant, but materials for maintenance such as mulch and tree guards,” he said.

“In May we also have a planting festival where we plant more hosts for butterflies.”

To get involved with The Butterfly Project visit the Forest Woodford tent at the festival or email butterflies@woodfordia.com

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