Karner Blue Butterfly Flight Season/Time Frame?

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by MDgreenery MDgreenery 1 month, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #5151881 Report Abuse
    MDgreenery
    MDgreenery
    Participant

    This is a two-fold question really; one ? is about a specific butterfly plant & the other ? about the butterfly itself.

    Been trying to grow the special blue Lupine for the Karner Blue Butterfly for several years now. This year looks like it may be the year for the plants to bloom but is it too late for the KBB to pass through Maryland? Do they have a specific flight time/pattern?

    The plants are still small but growing better & faster than last year & the year before last. Is it too late for the Lupine to bloom? What is the normal bloom time for this special Lupine that looks like the early Spring blooming Texas Blue Bonnet…but isn’t? If this Lupine blooms later than usual because of the cool Winter & Spring then what are the chances of the KBB using the plants successfully?

    There was a special on MPT  (My Public Television) on this particular subject last year. Seems someone spotted & noted the rare Lupine growing en mass around a remote area under Power Lines. They also spotted the rare KBB in that area & are presently trying to expand/propagate the Lupine for this butterfly?

    I wasn’t even sure KBB came this far when I started trying to grow this Lupine. Has anyone here had success with this hard to grow lupine plant or seed? If so, did you see any KBB’s as a result? Thank you for any information.


    #5152490 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    MD – This is such a great question about a very special butterfly. Karner Blues (Plebeus melissa) have two subspecies (samuelis), one that flies in the western U.S. and one in the east (melissa). The Eastern population is especially difficult to find, because it has small localized populations. Both subspecies are considered endangered, with the Eastern population especially struggling, so it’s wonderful that you’re looking to provide the help it needs by planting its host plant, Lupinis perennis.

    First, I recommend you learn more about the Karner Blue by checking out the Butterflies and Moths of North America website: http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Plebejus-melissa   This site includes maps where Karner Blues have been spotted, as well as giving information on its habitat and providing photos. This website is always my favorite place to start when learning about new butterflies. You’ll note that the eastern Karner Blue has two broods each year, meaning the first generation of butterflies that emerges in spring lays its eggs around May – June, depending on region, and then dies off after only a few days. After that, the eggs hatch and the caterpillars eat for several weeks, and then spend a few weeks in chrysalis before emerging as butterflies in July-August. This second brood of butterflies lays eggs, which will lay dormant until the following spring. The Wikipedia article on this species is full of excellent and accurate info, so I recommend checking that out as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karner_Blue

    As you’ve noted, the Karner Blue relies on wild lupine (Lupinis perennis) to survive. This native wildflower, sometimes called Sundial, is a biennial, meaning it does not flower until its second year when grown from seed. Wild lupine can be tough to grow in a home garden for a variety of factors. If yours is succeeding, then that’s fantastic! It should bloom between April and July, so yours definitely still has time to throw some flowers for you this year.

    As for whether you will ever see Karner Blues on your lupines – well, that’s hard to say. The populations in the east are scattered and localized. I suggest contacting your local North American Butterfly Association (NABA) chapter and asking if the Karner Blue has ever been seen locally. There is a lot of info on the web about this butterfly, as it is one of the endangered butterflies that actually has a lot of interest. Do a Google search and see what you can find.

    I hope this info is helpful to you. If others have more local info to share, I definitely hope they’ll do it here. This little butterfly is a neat species, and deserves the attention it receives. Good luck with your lupines – be sure to post photos if they flower!


    Jill Staake (florida33girl@gmail.com)
    Birds & Blooms Community Manager
    Tampa, Florida Zone 9b

    #5152557 Report Abuse
    MDgreenery
    MDgreenery
    Participant

    I can’t thank you enough Jill. The information & links you provided have exceeded my expectations. I just checked them out; there is plenty of detailed information on those links about both plant & butterfly.

    Just last week, I became very excited when I saw what I thought was a Karner Blue (Wikipedia says grayish but what I spotted for 3 days in a row was: small; silvery & quite the erratic flier). This butterfly didn’t land on any of our blooming flowers but chose to sun itself on various greenery for short spans of time. Now I’m thinking it may have been an Azure? The first time I noticed an Azure was last year…they are so small.

    Will look through all of the links you provided again as there is a lot of detailed information about possible predators/habitat/shade & nitrogen content that I want to look over more thoroughly.

    Would you happen to know of a link that shows the Karner Blue in flight? If there is a distinct pattern they follow (if it’s erratic &/or  flighty;-) then I may be able to categorize it sooner? But my butterfly identification skills are still quite novice.

    Thank you very much for the excellent information you have already provided!

    I will post a photo if & when the Lupines bloom. Unfortunately one of the articles states that the KBB prefers the fully blooming Wild Lupine…after so many years trying, it would be nice to see the Lupine seedlings actually bloom.


    #5152676 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Here’s a video of flying Karner Blues. Like most tiny butterflies, they are fast and erratic.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWTKWQaojfk

    This page may also help you identify them if you see them, as well as other small butterflies in the blue family:

    http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestPlanning/karnerIdentification.html

    Hope these help!


    Jill Staake (florida33girl@gmail.com)
    Birds & Blooms Community Manager
    Tampa, Florida Zone 9b

    #5152694 Report Abuse
    MDgreenery
    MDgreenery
    Participant

    Oh Jill, you are truly The Butterfly Lady with wings! Thank you kindly for those great links.

    I will look at the videos’ again & again. Was really surprised to see how similar the Easter-Tailed Blue & KBB look. You are an angel.


    #5153136 Report Abuse
    margba
    margba
    Participant

    Hi MD!  I see those here sometimes.  Do you grow any butterfly bushes or bee balm!  Jill, didnt know they were so endangered!


    #5153599 Report Abuse
    MDgreenery
    MDgreenery
    Participant

    Hi Marg,

    Congratulations on seeing such a rare & endangered butterfly, I should be so lucky. I believe I read on one of the links Jill provided(?) that they have reintroduced the KB to certain areas…& I thought Pennsylvania was one of them?

    Yes indeed, I do grow several varieties of BB’s & Monarda~Bee Balm along with a host of other bee, butterfly  & hummingbird friendly plants.

    Thanks for sharing your sighting!


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