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Karner Blue Butterfly - Lycaeides melissa samuelis

Karner Blue Karner Blue
Click on pictures to see larger version.
Photographs by Doug Morse, permission to use given by Save the Pine Bush

The Karner Blue butterfly was Federally listed as an endangered species in 1992. The caterpillars of the Karner Blues, like those of many butterflies, feed on a single host plant. Wild lupine Lupinus perennis, that naturally grows within the pine barrens, is the Karner caterpillars only foodplant. Like the Monarch butterfly, whose caterpillar is solely dependent on the milkweed plant as a food source, the Karner Blue's caterpillar is totally dependent on the wild lupine for survival of the species.

Karner Blue butterflies are found in the northern part of the range where wild lupine grows native. The butterfly is most widespread in Wisconsin and can be found in portions of Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York.

There are usually two hatchings of Karner Blue butterfly eggs each year. The first group of caterpillars hatch from eggs in April to early May from eggs that were laid the previous year. The caterpillars feed only on wild lupine plant leaves. About mid-May, the caterpillars pupate and adult butterflies emerge from their cocoon-like chrysalis by the end of May or early June. These adults mate, and lay their eggs in June on or near wild lupine plants. The eggs hatch in about one week and the caterpillars feed for about three weeks. Those caterpillars then pupate and the summer's second generation of adult butterflies appear sometime in July or the beginning of August. These adults mate and lay the eggs that will not hatch until the following spring.

Wild Lupine
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Karner Blue Splendor

Glorious species, endangered your plight
‘tho fashioned to fill us with awe and delight.
Sporting a wingspan half-an-inch blue
you’re the daintiest butterfly God ever flew.
Most comely of creatures in your wondrous role
you speak without words to the depths of our soul
‘tho through the great Pine Bush within which you soar
vast lucre’s created a grim zone-of-war.
Through grasping earth-spoilers and toads on the take
your Karner Blue dwelling stays ever at stake.
Your habitat threatened, profiteers seek to snatch
nearly every last bit of your blue lupine patch.
Your home -- unique globally -- means little by far
to the wielders of pressure who bulldoze and mar
with their backhoes, and blueprints for buildings of steel,
raw power and riches -- The Art of the Deal.
Such Lords of Persuasion, less one backward glance,
would sell Butterfly Soup if they had half-a-chance.
So you grieve as your helpers brave lawsuits and strife --
their eyes locked on the mark as they fight for your life.
From Lycaeides Melissa, a sincere billet-doux:
“Thank You, Counselor and Friends. You’re de facto true Blue.”
...May soon dawn the day when each earth-wrecking crew
sees the sacred in the splendor of our wee Karner Blue.

Copyright 2000, by

Prairie Frontier would like to thank A. Fisk for allowing us to share this marvelous poem with you.

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