Tuesday, 4 September 2018

'A Malaysian Garden in Sydney'

Where Have All the Butterflies Gone?

With our big move to the Mid North Coast of New South Wales happening, this is the appropriate time to provide a round-up of the butterfly sightings we have made in our little Sydney garden over the past six years. One might be surprised by the variety of our sightings, but disturbingly, in our last season there were far fewer sightings of these beautiful insects.


Firstly, let’s blame the removal of specific food trees for the butterflies in our immediate neighbourhood. Secondly, however, the rampant over-development taking place in the Sydney Basin, and particularly in our locale was a major negatively-impacting influence. The loss of suburban backyards to more-upon-more so-called Granny Flats, to increasing numbers of Duplex developments and to burgeoning high-rise, apartment-living developments have led to the clearing of traditional home gardens and native vegetation, both of which provide habitat and fodder for butterflies and other urban wildlife.

I wonder when this insane and unsustainable development will ever stop!

Common Crow Butterfly
Over the years the Common Crow has been our most regular visitor. However, over the warmer months of 2017-18, sightings were few and far between, perhaps due to the removal in our local area of oleander shrubs, a known fodder plant for the caterpillars.
Blue Triangle
Seen feeding on a China Doll shrub, this beautiful creature was a regular visitor in 2016 and 2017. However, last summer, we had no sightings: a fodder tree for Blue Triangle caterpillars, a Camphor Laurel, had been removed from an adjoining garden.
Tiger Moth
A regular visitor over the years, sightings of the Tiger Moth actually increased over 2018. In fact, many were lured indoors through opened doors, attracted by interior lighting, on balmy summer evenings.
Painted Lady
 Over the years, a frequent visitor to the flower garden of our front yard, the Painted lady was rarely seen in 2018.
Meadow Argus
Normally easy to find in meadows, as the name suggests, or parkland areas, the Meadow Argus could regularly be seen in our front flower garden. 
Orchard Swallowtail
Very rarely seen in our neighbourhood and only once photographed, this Orchard Swallowtail was found on the leaves of our macadamia tree.
White Banded Plane
Previously unsighted, the White Banded Plane made infrequent visits to our home in 2018.
Common Dart
Members of this group of butterflies, noted for their swift flight, were regular visitors to our backyard home orchard of sub-tropical trees and Asian vegetables.
Yellow Admiral
Also noted for its swift flight patterns, it is a challenge to photograph a Yellow Admiral. An infrequent visitor during the warm seasons of 2016 and 2017, but not sighted during the summer of 2018. This animal was photographed on a Lemon Basil plant.
Caper White
Photographed taking a drink from a damp path. Caper White butterflies are infrequent visitors to Sydney. However, when sighted, one is likely to make multiple sightings of this beautiful member of the butterfly family.
Mottled Emigrant
Photographed in 2016 on our China Doll shrub, this was our one-and-only sighting of this creature.
Pencilled Blue
Apologies for the poor quality photograph. However, this was our only sighting of this butterfly over more than six years. Here, it is feeding on Alyssum.
Schistophleps albida
Seen and photographed only once, Schistophleps albida is resting on a ripening mango
Pieris rapae
Last but not least, the ubiquitous and damaging Cabbage Moth, photographed here on a Lemon Basil plant. Without a doubt, the Cabbage Moth was the most frequent visitor to our home garden where it would sometimes wreak havoc upon our Choy Sum plants.

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…