27 March 2020
In March, the Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network (RBCN) visited David Fleay Wildlife Park on Queensland’s Gold Coast where a Richmond birdwing captive breeding program is currently underway.
The breeding program, part of a joint captive rearing and release project conducted by the Department of Environment and Science (DES) and supported by the RBCN, aims to strengthen the genetic makeup of Richmond birdwing butterfly populations across their Queensland range.
With a wingspan of up to 16cm in females and 13cm in males, the Richmond birdwing butterfly is one of Australia’s largest butterflies. Unfortunately, due to habitat loss and fragmentation and introduced Dutchman’s pipe (which is toxic to the larvae of the Richmond birdwing), they are listed as a vulnerable species in Queensland.
Richmond birdwing captive breeding program at David Fleay Wildlife Park
To successfully breed the species, the butterflies need access to large amounts of healthy birdwing butterfly vines. This vine is one of only two larval host plants; the butterfly’s life cycle cannot be completed without the vine.
The RBCN recognises the importance of this captive breeding program and in December 2019 donated 60 vines to assist with the program in 2020 and beyond.
We hope these vines will grow to feed hundreds of Richmond birdwing larvae and contribute to saving this incredible butterfly.
RBCN: working to save vulnerable Richmond birdwing
The joint captive rearing and release project complements other important components of RBCN’s enthusiastic efforts to conserve the Richmond birdwing, namely:
- the reinstatement of corridors and stepping stones of the food plant P. praevenosa to link existing remnant habitat and isolated butterfly populations
- the removal of introduced Dutchman’s pipe
- mapping of the current distribution of the butterfly and its food plant.
Find out more about the RBCN’s work and how you can get involved.