Species Profile
Environmental Conservation Online System

Karner Blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis)

Listing Status:   

Where Listed: WHEREVER FOUND

General Information

The Karner blue butterfly was first described more than a century ago in Karner, New York. It is a small butterfly, with a wingspan of about one inch. The male's wings are distinctively marked with a silvery or dark blue color. The female is grayish brown, especially on the outer portions of the wings, to blue on the topside, with irregular bands of orange crescents inside the narrow black border.

Map of Species occurrence

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Map Image Map of Species occurrence Map of Species occurrence

This map represents our best available information about where a species is currently known to or or is believed to occur; however, it should NOT be used as an official species list for Section 7 Consultation purposes. To obtain an official species list for this purpose, please visit the Information, Planning, and Conservation (IPaC) System (click here: http://ecos.fws.gov/ipac)



This species is listed wherever it is found, but
Current Listing Status Summary
Status Date Listed Lead Region Where Listed
12/14/1992 Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region (Region 3) Entire

» Federal Register Documents

Most Recent Federal Register Documents (Showing 5 of 8: view all)
Date Citation Page Title
03/18/2009 74 FR 11600 11602 Notice of initiation of review; request for information on nine listed Midwestern species
10/10/2007 72 FR 57511 57512 Eastern New York Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Enhancement of Survival Permit
02/22/2005 70 FR 8602 8603 Proposed Low Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for Michigan Electric Transmission Company, LLC
09/19/2003 68 FR 54913 54914 Notice of Availability of the Approved Recovery Plan for the Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis)
12/05/2001 66 FR 63248 63249 Notice of Availability of the Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) Technical/Agency Draft Recovery Plan for Review and Comment

» Action Plans

Action Plans (Showing 1 of 1)
Date Title
10/01/2009 Karner blue butterfly spotlight species action plan

» Recovery

Recovery Plan Information Search
Current Recovery Plan(s)
Date Title Plan Action Status Plan Status
09/19/2003 Recovery Plan for the Karner Blue Butterfly View Implementation Progress Final
Other Recovery Documents (Showing 3 of 3)
Date Citation Page Title Document Type
03/18/2009 74 FR 11600 11602 Notice of initiation of review; request for information on nine listed Midwestern species
  • Notice 5-year Review, Initiation
  • 09/19/2003 68 FR 54913 54914 Notice of Availability of the Approved Recovery Plan for the Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis)
  • Notice Final Recovery Plan Availability
  • 12/05/2001 66 FR 63248 63249 Notice of Availability of the Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) Technical/Agency Draft Recovery Plan for Review and Comment
  • Notice Draft Recovery Plan Availability
  • Five Year Review
    Date Title
    09/17/2012 Karner blue butterfly 5 Year Review

    » Critical Habitat

    Current Critical Habitat Documents (Showing 2 of 2)
    Date Citation Page Title Document Type Status
    07/03/1978 43 FR 28938 28945 Proposed Endangered or Threatened Status with Critical Habitat For Ten Butterflies or Moths Proposed Rule Final designated
    07/03/1978 43 FR 28938 28945 Proposed Endangered or Threatened Status with Critical Habitat For Ten Butterflies or Moths Proposed Rule Unknown

    To learn more about critical habitat please see http://criticalhabitat.fws.gov

    » Conservation Plans

    Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) (learn more) (Showing 5 of 6: view all)
    HCP Plan Summaries
    Cobb to Brickyard Reconductoring Project
    Michigan Statewide Karner Blue Butterfly HCP
    National Grid HCP
    NIPSCO
    Town of Rome
    Safe Harbor Agreements (SHA): (learn more) (Showing 2 of 2)
    SHA Plan Summaries
    Indiana Karner blue butterfly SHA
    The Nature Conservancy Eastern New York Chapter Programmatic SHA for Karner Blue Butterfly and Frosted Elfin

    » Petitions

    No petition findings have been published for the Karner Blue butterfly, Entire.

    » Life History

    Habitat Requirements

    Karner blues are found in the northern range of wild lupine habitat. Wild lupine (Lupinus perennis) is an attractively flowered plant that occurs in pine barrens and oak savannas in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, and Wisconsin. The Karner blue's habitat is a patchwork of pine and scrub oak scattered among open grassy areas. Historically, a network of these openings among the trees was maintained by wildfire and at one time the butterfly was found in this habitat in a nearly continuous narrow band across 10 states and one province. Today it has been eliminated from at least five of these states.

    Food Habits

    Karner blue caterpillars feed only on the leaves of the wild lupine plant. Adults feed on the nectar of flowering plants. This severely restricts where they can survive.

    Reproductive Strategy

    The Karner blue butterfly usually has two generations, and thus two hatches, each year. In April, the first group of caterpillars hatch from eggs that were laid the previous year. The caterpillars feed only on wild lupine plant leaves. By about mid-May, the caterpillars pupate and adult butterflies emerge from their cocoon-like chrysalis by the end of May or in early June. These adults mate, laying 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. They then pupate and the summer's second generation of adult butterflies appears in July. These adults mate and lay eggs that will not hatch until the following spring.

    » Other Resources

    NatureServe Explorer Species Reports -- NatureServe Explorer is a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals and ecological communtities of the U.S and Canada. NatureServe Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.

    ITIS Reports -- ITIS (the Integrated Taxonomic Information System) is a source for authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

    Last updated: October 20, 2014