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Ptunarra brown butterfly surveys

The ptunarra brown butterfly (Oreixenica ptunarra) is endemic to Tasmania and is only found within Poa tussock grasslands and grassy habitats above 400 m. These habitats are important for this species’ lifecycle as the young caterpillars feed exclusively on the Poa leaves. The habitats however have a variety of threats associated with clearance and management that can impact the butterflies. In addition, predation by introduced vespid wasps (Vespula germanica and V. vulgaris) can have a significant local impact on populations in particular landscape contexts. As a result the species is listed as vulnerable under the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 and endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The flying season for the ptunarra butterfly is very short, lasting for only 3-4 weeks during sunny autumn days. We have just finished another productive season of ptunarra surveys, including work on a significant previously un-surveyed population in central Tasmania. Our results will contribute substantially to better understanding the extent of habitat and total population in the central highlands, as well as being a catalyst for improved habitat management and preservation at a local scale.