Chicago Ecological Services Field Office

Midwest Region


Chicago Field Office

230 South Dearborn St.,

Suite 2938

Chicago, Illinois 60604
Phone: 312-216-4720

FAX: 312-216-1788
TTY: 1-800-877-8339
(Federal Relay)


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Karner Blue Butterfly

(Lycaeides melissa samuelis)

Image of Karner Blue Butterfly



Listed as endangered in 1992.




  • Final Determination of Endangered Status, published in the Federal Register (57 FR 59236-59244), December 14, 1992.



Historically, this small butterfly occurred in populations that were scattered over much of the upper midwest and northeastern United States.  Those populations were restricted primarily to areas where sandy soils promoted the growth of lupines, it's larval host plant. 

The sandy woodland, barrens, or prairie habitats in which this species thrives are maintained by fires or other periodic disturbances. Without such disturbances, changes in habitat can cause loss of lupine and Karner blue populations.


In northeast Illinois, this species was known from sandy areas along the Lake Michigan shoreline. In recent years, only occasional individuals have been reported.  Locally, the Chicago Illinois Field Office has participated in surveys for Karner blues in areas of suitable habitat remaining in Lake County, Illinois.



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Last updated: February 22, 2018