The ACT government intends to transfer tens of critically endangered golden sun moths from Yarralumla grassland - presumably by hand and carrier - to make way for development related to the Canberra Brickworks precinct.
Construction on the Brickworks access road and Dudley Street upgrade, both of which were approved last week, is set to begin early next year and be completed after about 12 months.
Sometime in late 2019 - and "contingent on weather conditions" - ecologists will traverse on the some 2.5 hectares of habitat to be removed, each with screwdrivers, containers, and possibly chisels in hand.
The latter, or something like it, would be run through the soil to create "rip lines" at a depth of 10 centimetres; the soil would be overturned, and "unearthed caterpillars or caterpillars at the base of grass tussocks" removed.
"This [translocation] would [then] involve: banging a large screwdriver into neighbouring grassland habitat, within the immediate vicinity of favourable food plants; and placing a salvaged caterpillar in the hole created by the screwdriver and covering with dirt," the project's notice of decision read.
Biologist and environmental consultant Alison Rowell said the effort to "salvage" golden sun moth larvae would not guarantee their survival. Previous translocation attempts had mixed success.
"This is a mitigation that's better than bulldozing it; it's translocating the larvae and hoping that they will grow on the roots of the plants that they will be put onto," Ms Rowell said.
"There's a possibility that will happen, as it has been achieved [before]."
In 2016, 120 larvae were relocated from grasslands in Taylor to neighbouring grasslands in Kinlyside Nature Reserve, a spokesman for the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development directorate said. Annual monitoring showed that some mature moths had emerged.
One federal government resource states that translocation of the golden sun moth "is not considered to mitigate or offset the impact of an action, as it is unlikely to result in a positive conservation outcome for the species".
"In limited circumstances salvage translocation may be tried as an experiment, in addition to appropriate mitigating measures," it reads.
Mature golden sun moths would not be relocated from the development site given their short lifespan - between three and five days in late November to December - the directorate spokesman said.
The exact neighbouring grassland that the golden sun moths would be relocated to would be identified during pre-clearance surveys and salvage operations.
"The [undisclosed] costs will be incurred by [Transport Canberra and City Services]," the spokesman said.
The government was granted an environmental impact statement exemption for the project.