The Richmond Birdwing is arguably SEQ’s most stunning butterfly. The wingspan of the male birdwing is 13 cm across and is iridescent green and black in colour. The female is larger (up to 16cm wingspan) and has predominantly black and white wings. Birdwings used to be commonplace in SEQ with thousands reportedly flying around Brisbane streets in the 1870s. They depend on subtropical rainforests to survive, but unfortunately most of these rainforests have been cleared in the last 150 years resulting in Richmond Birdwings declining and becoming locally extinct in many parts of SEQ.
Thankfully, the Richmond Birdwing’s plight has been championed by a team of scientists, landholders and dedicated community volunteers, who have been working for decades to conserve known habitats and to also plant host vines to re-create lost habitat. The caterpillars of Richmond Birdwings are fussy eaters and will only eat two native vines, the Richmond Birdwing Vine (Pararistolochia praevenosa) and Mountain Aristolochia (Pararistolochia laheyana). So by planting these vines in appropriate locations, it is hoped that birdwing numbers will grow.
In early 2014, a project was developed to help create corridors of host vines across SEQ allowing butterflies to travel to new areas and successfully start new populations. This project, led by the Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network (RBCN), will plant 1250 (it was originally 1000 but was increased due to public support!) host vines in strategic locations across SEQ, including Burleigh Heads, Pomona, Witta and also Foam Bark Gully at Fig Tree Pocket. Most of the 1250 vines have already been planted.
If you see a birdwing butterfly or find a mature host vine, please contact either your Land for Wildlife Officer or email the RBCN on [email protected]