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Tiger Time

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It’s eerily quiet on the island during the shutdown because of Covid-19. However, some small things keep us entertained during our isolation.

Friday, March 22 saw the annual invasion of the blue tiger butterfly (Tirumala Hamata) at the beginning of their northern migration. The blue tiger butterflies began arriving in their thousands, crossing the beach on their way back north.

Blue tiger butterflies on red ash (Photo: David Anderson)

Since then, the adult butterflies stopped off to “fuel up” for the remainder of their migration taking advantage of the prolific flowering of the red ash aka soap trees (Alphitonia excelsa).

There have been a few blue tiger butterflies flitting around the garden at Eurong for several weeks, but after the rain stopped and the wind eased, they arrived in their multitudes.

Blue tiger butterfly – March 2020 (Photo: David Anderson)

They are regarded as mostly a tropical species found in North Queensland, but they fly south during Spring and Summer and return north in Autumn to escape the cold.

The high rainfall and hot temperatures lead to lush foliage on corky milk vine (Secamone elliptica) which is the principal food for the butterfly’s larvae.

Then, on April 10, as if a signal had been given, the blue tiger butterflies resumed their migration, heading due north in their hundreds. 

Their migration takes place every year, but their sudden arrival and departure make for colourful entertainment.

Article submitted by David Anderson, Fraser Island Association

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