The Mildura Ogyris butterfly is ranked seventh on the list of Australian butterflies most likely to become extinct in the next 20 years. The largest known population is on the Raakajlim private conservation property near Hattah Kulkyne National Park.
The butterfly relies on Sugar Ants to rear the caterpillars underground within the ant nest. But although the ant is common, the butterfly is not. This project will contribute to scant knowledge of the butterfly ecology, promote awareness that may lead to the discovery of other populations of the Mildura Ogyris butterfly, and demonstrate the role citizen scientists can play in saving a species from extinction.
We will engage scientists in survey design to answer key questions about the butterfly-ant relationship:
1. Confirm the taxonomy of the host ant and survey the abundance of ants,
2. Survey the abundance and seasonal flight times of butterflies
3. Establish an ant colony in a formicarium to observe ant-butterfly interactions within the nest
4. Raise awareness of the butterfly through identification sheets, website and social media.