n African Entomology - Conservation management recommendations for the Karkloof blue butterfly, (Lepidoptera : Lycaenidae)




The threatened Karkloof blue butterfly, (Butler), is endemic to KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. Two of the four sites from which it is known are registered as Natural Heritage Sites within Mistbelt grassland. Even with such protection there is no guarantee that the species will survive in the long-term without habitat management. The aim of such management is to optimize the habitat so that it best meets the needs of the butterfly. Effects of the current fire regime on the butterfly, host plant and ant host were evaluated. It is recommended that burning only take place after the larvae have hatched moved underground with the ant host. Using a Global Positioning System and Geographic Information System, core, quality habitat characteristics were defined. In cooperation with the landowner at one site, alien invasive plants are being removed to increase the area of quality habitat. Availability of host plants limits numbers of the butterfly in the field. Guidelines are provided for propagation and introduction of the host plant to provide the butterfly with more oviposition sites.


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