Other Common Names
One of the most threatened butterfly species in the country, this is protected by NSW and Federal legislation.
I saw these butterflies towards the end of their flight season, which explains why the specimens I photographed are all rather worn. The butterflies are very unobtrusive - they seem to fly less than other coppers, and often settle low down in the grass. When they bask in the sun, however, they often seem to choose similar perches to those used by the other Paralucia species, such as at the end of grass stalks or on low shrubs.
The population I saw was much less concentrated than the populations I've seen of the other members of this genus. I saw about a dozen individuals, spread over quite a wide area. It was a case of searching a lot of ground and occasionally spotting a butterfly. This is in marked contrast to the other Paralucia species, where I've tended to find all the individuals in a colony concentrated within a small area. It is possible, of course, that this is simply because I visited the site at the end of the flight season, and there were not very many butterflies on the wing. Perhaps in the peak flight season the butterflies are very concentrated - I'll have to revisit the site next September to check this.
I did see these coppers chasing other butterflies away, as is the case with the other members of this genus, but it didn't seem to be as common an occurence as with the other species. I also did not see any examples of males competing for a territory, which is commonplace with the other coppers. This may not be typical of this species - again I'll have to wait until next September to find out.
P. spinifera appears to be similar to Neolucia agricola, but if anything is even more unobtrusive than that species, as it spends less time on the wing.
Thanks to Simon Nally for telling me where to find this species!
I went back to Lithgow in September 2005, and I revised some of my earlier opinions after seeing this species during the main part of its flight season. Firstly, the territorial behaviour was much more apparent, as there were more individuals on the wing. Secondly, the butterflies were easier to see when on the wing, especially the males because the purple colour was much more apparent on these fresh specimens than it had been on the worn examples I'd seen before.
Lithgow - November 2004; September 2005; September 2007, September 2008, September 2009, October 2010, September 2011