Image: Lemon migrant butterflies mating.
It was a great to see last week the masses of mostly lemon-yellow butterflies that were flying all over Queensland’s south- east, including our Bribie Island and surrounding districts. The swarms were triggered off by the recent bout of wet weather after the prolonged drought conditions in 2019 and the recent hot and humid weather had sent them out in search for their favourite food source the Golden Shower tree, Cassia fistula and other Cassia or Senna species in the districts. The lemon migrant butterfly- Catopsilia pomona, varies in wing colour from lemon to creamy white and the butterflies never seem to sit still longer enough for a photo, as they are on a mission to breed and lay eggs. One of my lovely customers in Bongaree, Susan, was a little apprehensive indeed when she soon realised her prized feature tree- Cassia fistula-in her front yard, was nearly defoliated of the new growth by the lemon migrant butterfly caterpillars- feasting enmasse. I quickly mentioned, “that it is natures pruning”, with a wry smile on my face, while hoping to alleviate her concerns after advising the tree will bounce back in due course, probably with more flowers than last year. Cassia fistula can put on a fantastic display when in flower but is considered an environmental weed in Qld and NT and care should be taken to not let the seed pods mature or escape into our bushland, but the butterflies love them dearly. And who can deny the beauty of the trees cascading golden floral display.
Image: The Golden Shower tree: Cassia fistula, with the lemon migrant butterfly caterpillar, feasting away on the foliage on Susan’s tree- (much to Susan’s displeasure).