Butterflies set to return to the Gold Coast – homeless no more
Butterflies always seem to be the flavour of the month, especially where the young and young at heart are concerned.
Imagine walking down your street and seeing big beautiful green and black butterflies. Once, early residents of southeast Queensland and northern New South Wales could do just that.
Local Runaway Bay resident Lynette Reilly is passionate about butterflies, in particular the beautiful and endangered Richmond Birdwing butterflies.
‘Since the 1800s, people have been cutting back rainforest edges and the butterflies’ habitat has shrunk alarmingly,’ she says. ‘Their caterpillars can only survive by eating the soft new leaves of the Birdwing vine. Bring the vines back and we have a chance of bringing the butterflies back too.’
Lynette is not your traditional greenie. Formerly a biology teacher at Keebra Park High School, she is now a writer with an intense desire to highlight the intriguing small creatures in our natural world. This new picture book is her second. The beach in front of her home inspired her to feature soldier crabs in her first children’s book Micky’s Music which was published by Greater Glider in 1998.
Now her passion for the ‘fairies of the forest’ has come to life with detailed full-page illustrations by botanical and nature artist Lois Hughes. Birdwings’ New Home will be launched by local ABC radio personality Peter Scott at the Botanic Gardens on Sunday 27th November. The Friends of the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens have published the book as part of their planting and workshop program to ‘Bring Back the Birdwings’. (The Gardens’ first plantings of the Birdwing vine took place at the Community Planting Day in September, Threatened Species month.)
‘I’m also very conscious of the trauma that people go through when they move house,’ Lynette says. ‘So many young families are relocating these days, especially here on the Coast. Lots of children can relate to the butterflies asking Where will we sleep tonight? and Who will I play with? As a young child, I moved house in various country towns, but we always came to the Coast for holidays. Our children and grandchildren have survived moving too.
‘Putting butterflies and the search for a new home together seemed natural,’ she adds.
The Friends also pay tribute to the Jupiters Casino Community Benefit Fund whose grant covered the printing costs for the book. This enables all proceeds from book sales to benefit the Gardens and the Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network.
Graham McDonald, local botanical consultant, author and long time member of both the Friends and the Network, had the last word. ‘It’s time a new generation of children is introduced to the Birdwing Butterfly.’