Bathurst copper butterfly (Paralucia spinifera) (also known as the purple copper butterfly) - endangered species listing

The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act has made a Final Determination to list Paralucia spinifera Edwards and Common, 1978, the Bathurst Copper Butterfly (also known as the Purple Copper Butterfly), as an ENDANGERED SPECIES on Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act. Listing of Endangered Species is allowed for by Section 10 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act. Any submissions received following advertisement of the Preliminary Determination have been considered by the Scientific Committee.

This species is also known as the Purple Copper Butterfly.

NSW Scientific Committee - final determination

The Scientific Committee has found that:

1. Paralucia spinifera Edwards and Common, 1978 is a very small butterfly with purple and green iridescent upper surface and muted brown, black and grey undersides.

2. Paralucia spinifera is known only from a small number of sites east of Bathurst.

3. Paralucia spinifera is believed to be restricted to locations above 900m elevation, requires a specific host plant, Bursaria spinosa and is dependent on the ant Anonychomyrma itinerans.

4. Adults fly from late September to late November. Eggs are laid singly or in small groups. Eggs hatch in 14-17 days and the larval period lasts 6-8 weeks. Pupation takes place between December to late February in ants nests at the base of the host plant; pupae remain in the ants nest until the following spring.

5. During, the egg phase, the attendant ants, Anonychomyrma itinerans, constantly search the host plant, Bursaria spinosa, seeking newly hatched larvae. After hatching the first instar larvae are immediately attended by one ant. During the first three larval instars both larvae and ants are diurnal, but later instars become nocturnal. There are up to eight instars.

6. Known populations are highly fragmented, occurring on ridges in open eucalypt woodland, usually on west to northwest facing slopes.

7. The survival of Paralucia spinifera is threatened by habitat disturbance and over collecting.

8. Particular disturbance factors include; grazing of the host plant by sheep, goats and cattle, clearing for the establishment of pine plantations, invasion of exotic weeds and activities of feral pigs.

9. All known populations except one are outside conservation reserves. The one known conserved site, in Winburndale Nature Reserve, is threatened by blackberries and feral pigs and is regularly burnt.

10. Given the very limited known distribution and the threats posed by habitat degradation and over collecting the Committee is of the opinion that Paralucia spinifera is likely to become extinct unless steps are taken to conserve the species (and its essential ecological association with host plant and attendant ant).

Dr C Dickman
Scientific Committee

Gazetted: 15/11/96