Karner Blue Butterfly

Karner blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis)

Karner blues are tiny (nickel-sized) butterflies. Males are a brighter blue on top while females are brown-blue with orange crescents lining the edges of the hind wings. The underside of both male and female wings are silver-gray with orange crescents lining the margins of the hind wings.


Habitat: The Karner blue is dependent on its host plant, the wild blue lupine (Lupinus perennis), for survival. As a larva, the Karner blue feeds exclusively on wild blue lupine, which grows in sunny habitats with well-drained soil. The sandy open landscape of the inland pine barrens is excellent habitat for the lupine and the Karner blue. Loss of habitat to development is the primary reason for the decline of this butterfly to endangered status.


Cool Facts:

  • The Karner blue butterfly was first identified as a species by Russian novelist and lepidopterist Vladimir Nabokov in 1944.
  • Nabokov named the butterfly after the hamlet of Karner in the town of Colonie, NY.
  • The Karner blue butterfly is a federally endangered species.

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