Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Insect Expert Urges CQ to Get Planting for Butterflies

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Insect Expert Urges CQ to Get Planting for Butterflies

Article excerpt

Byline: Jann Houley

BOB Newby likes to quote his hero, Edward Wilson that "if humans disappear from the planet, in a few hundred years no one will notice the difference.

"But if the insects collapse, there will be catastrophic changes in the ecosystem."

Originally from a dairy farm in NSW's Northern Rivers region, Mr Newby came to Rockhampton 35 years ago to work a while at CQUniversity.

"It was the usual story; I came for three years and never left," he said from his Frenchville home.

"It was a huge change from growing up in Dorrigo and studying at Armidale.

"In their cold winters the insects disappear over winter but here in Central Queensland they tend to hang around."

Mr Newby said the local region - where north and south meet - offers a "rich diversity" of insects, and in particular his favourites, the butterflies.

"They're quite spectacular; you've got the northern species coming down and the southern species coming up."

But, Mr Newby warns, these species, which are crucial for pollination, rely almost entirely on very specific species of food plants which are dwindling quickly.

The retired entomologist joined other members of the Native Plants Capricornia at Gladstone's Ecofest late May, in offering indigenous species for sales.

"It's not a fundraiser as such; we want to get the plants out there into the community," he said.

"Lots of garden nurseries don't carry native species and, if they do, they're generally imported from down south and not suitable to this area."

During NPC meetings every month, members help each other identify species they collect, propagate species from seed, and offer plants as raffle prizes.

Mr Newby raves over the lime berry (Micromelum minitum) he's planted over the road from his Frenchville Rd home, alongside the popular public footpath. …

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