Photo credit: Sheng-Shan Lu
The Karkloof Blue, Orachrysops ariadne, is classified as ‘VULNERABLE’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM. It is confined to a very special type of habitat, wood’s indigo, in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. While it lays its eggs on the host plant, the larva grows up in association with the Carpenter ants which live alongside it. Its four populations are very small, with only a few dozen individuals at each locality.
The main threat to the Karkloof Blue is the conversion of land to commercial timber plantations, with a simultaneous spread of these alien trees into natural areas. Inappropriate burning regimes within this species’ habitat, and the impacts of domestic cattle, are also potential threats to their very small populations.
The four localities are now in protected areas, where the butterfly is protected and the habitat is managed appropriately. At one of the localities, Nkandla Forest Reserve, the local Chube community is overseeing the care of this flagship species. The Karkloof Blue is also represented on a logo for the local tourist route, the Midlands Meander.
To learn more about the Karkloof Blue Butterfly, click here. Or visit the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ by clicking their logo below.
To learn more about the Bush Warriors “Species of the Day” feature, please click here and read up on our initiative to raise awareness about the loss of earth’s biodiversity.