Midwest Region Endangered Species Conserving the nature of America

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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Endangered Species program is conserving and restoring threatened and endangered species and their ecosystems.




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Service in the Midwest


The Midwest Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. Find a location near you.


The Midwest Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Find a location near you »

Karner Blue Butterfly

(Lycaeides melissa samuelis)


Photo of a Karner blue butterfly by Paul Labus of the The Nature Conservancy in Indiana

Photo by Paul Labus; The Nature Conservancy (Indiana).


Status: Endangered, listed December 14, 1992


Habitat: Pine barrens and oak savannas on sandy soils and containing wild lupines (Lupinus perennis), the only known food plant of larvae.


Lead Region: 3


Region 3 Lead Office: Green Bay, Wisconsin Field Office


Range: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota (possibly extirpated), New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin

The Karner blue butterfly, an endangered species, is a small butterfly that lives in oak savannas and pine barren ecosystems from eastern Minnesota and eastward to the Atlantic seaboard. Historically, it was found in a continuous band throughout its range but today is found in portions of New Hampshire, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and Minnesota. The wild blue lupine (Lupinus perennis) is the only food plant for the Karner caterpillar. But the range of Karners and lupine do not completely overlap. Instead, Karners are found along the northern band of lupine range. Follow the links below for more information about the Karner blue butterfly life history and what is being done to save this endangered species.


Karner Blue Butterfly Final Recovery Plan


Karner Blue Butterfly 5-Year Review (129-page PDF Adobe PDF icon; 1MB) September 2012


Recovery Plan Update (February 25, 2011)


Final Recovery Plan (September 2003)


Federal Register Notice of Availability - Approved Recovery Plan for the Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis - September 19, 2003 (PDF Adobe PDF icon)


Karner Blue Butterfly Natural History and Regulatory Information:

USFWS Fact Sheet I  
USFWS Fact Sheet II
USFWS Species Profile

Wild blue lupine

Wild blue lupine is the sole food for the Karner blue caterpillar.

Photo by USFWS; Joel Trick


Listen to a podcast!

Find out about the karner blue butterfly from field biologist Cathy Carnes. Cathy has helped recover Karner blues since 1992.


Audio Clip





Karner Blue Butterfly Research, Monitoring and Management

Propagation Handbook for the Karner Blue Butterfly (Nov. 2010)


A Guide to the Use of Distance Sampling to Estimate Abundance of Karner blue butterflies


High Potential Range in Wisconsin

High Potential Range Map in Wisconsin (PDF)


Karner Blue Butterfly Threats Summary Table (PDF Adobe PDF icon)


Safe Harbor Agreement

Enhancement of Survival Permit and Safe Harbor Agreement: Restoration Activities for the Karner Blue Butterfly in the West Gary, Indiana Recovery Unit (June 2006)


Habitat Conservation Plans


Northern Indiana Public Service Company (March 6, 2006)



State-wide Karner Blue Butterfly HCP



Renewal of Wisconsin Statewide Karner Blue Butterfly HCP (July 2010)


The Karner Blue Butterfly Habitat Conservation Plan Fact Sheet


Questions and Answers about the Karner Blue Butterfly Habitat Conservation Plan


Wisconsin's Karner Blue Butterfly Habitat Conservation Plan


Articles About Karner Blue Butterflies:

Butterflies Benefit from Statewide HCP (July 2000)


The Karner blue butterfly: an article about the species and its ecosystem (April 1997)


The Beauty and Benefits of Savannas: Necedah National Wildlife Refuge - learn about management for the Karner blue butterfly's ecosystem (April 1997)


Of Wings and Warriors: management for the Karner blue butterfly on Fort McCoy in Wisconsin (January 1997)


Wild lupine and Karner blue butterflies: an article about the Karner blue's relationship with wild lupine (November 1996)



Midwest Endangered Species Home