Karner Blue Butterfly Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Reproduction

The karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) is a blue butterfly species that is typically found in the wild lupine habitat. They mainly occur in New Jersey, Wisconsin, Michigan, and in the southern Hemisphere. Indiana Dunes National Park hosts large number of karner blues. They have wingspan measuring up to one inch.

Karner Blue Butterfly Facts

Anatomy

  • Karner blue butterfly is primarily recognized by deep-blue plumage. The upper wings are dusky brown in color along with some orange spots on its edges.
  • They have one-inch wingspan with females are greyish brown in color.

Geographic Range

Karner blue butterflies are likely to occur in the United States including eastern Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Miller Beach. In other states such as New Hemisphere and Ohio karner blues have been introduced.

Habitat

  • They make homes in a wide variety of habitats especially those that are abundant in pine barrens, oak savannas, wild lily-of-the-valley-starflower, blackberry-sheep sorrel, mosses, starflower, grasses, whorled yellow loosestrife, sweetfern, northern dewberry, and sheep sorrel.
  • Unlike adult males, female butterflies are thought to hide in shaded habitats. They do so in order to avoid confronting males and also to make use of better wild lupine.
  • Karner blue butterfly is most likely to feed nectar species. They happen to live in open meadows and woodlands that are mainly dominated by buffalo wallowing or wild fires.
karner blue butterfly facts
Karner Blue Butterfly ©www.wildlife.state.nh.us

Feeding Ecology & Habitat

  • The karner blue butterfly is a nectar-lover species as it is thought to consume as many 41 different nectar species.
  • In spring, butterflies eat blackberries while in summer they seem to prefer white sweetclover, flowering spurge, and spotted beebalm.
  • Blue butterfly’s diet also consists of common cinquefoil which is one of the primary sources for obtaining nectar.
  • Karner blues living in the Michigan and New York are apt to rely on lanceleaf tickseed, northern dewberry, and lyrate rockcress. In New Jersey they will also feed nectar from spotted knapweed, Ceanothus americanus, goldenrods, and wild lupine.

Predators

  • Ambush bugs
  • Spined soldier bugs
  • Seven-spotted lady beetle
  • Damsel bugs
  • Green lacewings
  • Robber flies
  • Assassin bugs
  • Crab spiders
  • Dragonflies
  • White-tailed deer
  • Birds
  • Wasps

Reproductive Biology

  • A female raises 2 broods each year. Karner blue butterfly lays eggs in late summer. Eggs hatch in April.
  • The average development period ranges from 1 – 2 months.
  • Adult karner blue butterflies have a lifespan of 3 – 5 days.
  • Male butterfly appears to take flight earlier than females. The first flight occurs in May and June.
  • Karner blue butterfly lays eggs on plants and grasses. They may lay eggs as many as 83 on average.
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