The Whisker Chronicles

Whiskers are also known as vibrissa, from the latin vibrare "to vibrate". Vibrissa are the specialized hairs on mammals and the bristlelike feathers near the mouths of many birds. Their resonant design is symbolic of the energies, good and bad, that are reverberating throughout the natural world. Every living thing is connected and, by birthright, deserves to exist.

Celebrating Forty Years of the Endangered Species Act: Karner Blue Butterfly

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Photo by Paul Labus: The Nature Conservancy in Indiana.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Photo by Paul Labus: The Nature Conservancy in Indiana.

Scientific Name:   Lycaeides melissa samuelis

Year Listed on the Endangered Species List:  1992

Endangered Species Listing Status:  Endangered

Conservation Efforts and Partners:

Beginning with twelve members in 2001, The Butterfly Conservation Initiative (BFCI) was established as a result of conversations between the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Partnerships and Outreach.  The original two missions of the initiative were to support the recovery of federally listed butterfly species and to increase public awareness of, and involvement, in local and regional butterfly conservation efforts.  The BFCI now has more than fifty members, partners and contributors working together successfully to save the Karner blue butterfly.

In one example,  The National Wildlife Federation, a BFCI partner, engages schoolchildren of Concord, New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department to raise and plant lupine in a Karner blue butterfly habitat restoration project. In 2004, wild Karner blue butterflies were seen at the restored habitat for the first time in three years.

Some of the organizations that are engaged in captive breeding and reintroduction throughout all of the Karner blue butterfly range include The Toledo Zoo, the Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game.

Where Karner Blue Butterflies Live:  

Wisconsin, as well as portions of Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio and Illinois. 

What Karner Blue Butterflies Eat:   

Caterpillars feed only on the leaves of the wild lupine plant. Adults feed on the nectar of flowering lupine plants, which restricts their range significantly.  Protection and supplementation of wild lupine habitat is very important in saving the Karner blue butterfly.

How Long Karner Blue Butterflies Live:

Adult Karner Blue butterflies live up to 2-3 weeks but the total lifespan from egg through adult varies.  Eggs laid late in the season survive through winter and hatch the following year so those individuals live for almost 12 months. However, eggs that are laid early in May or June have a total lifespan of approximately two months.

How We Can All Help Karner Blue Butterflies:

Ask your local zoo or aquarium if they are members of the BFCI and ask them about local volunteer opportunities.

Plant a butterfly friendly garden, even if you do not live near the range for Karner blue butterflies specifically.  Many native insects require native plants to thrive.  For more on the topic, I recommend reading Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy.


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This entry was posted on February 11, 2014 by in Endangered Species, Insects, Wildlife.
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