Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) on June 4 at Crex Meadows, Grantsburg, Wisconsin

I was amazed and pleasantly surprised to find that the nickel-sized Karner Blue butterfly was abundant, and easily the most common butterfly species out and about at south-central Wisconsin’s Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on this cool day July 20th. Its only known caterpillar food plant is the native Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) which was just done blooming, but that doesn’t phase the adults which nectar on many flower species including the abundant roadside flower Bird’s-foot Trefoil. Interestingly, the Karner Blue caterpillars will not use the escaped Lupine that we often see along the roadsides of northern Minnesota (Lupinus polyphyllus).

This Karner Blue butterfly is a federally Endangered subspecies (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) of the Melissa Blue (Lycaeides melissa). It is intimately tied to its food plant, Wild Lupine, which grows in sandy pine-oak savanna, a rare landscape in the 21st century.

blue Karner Melissa Blue butterfly Lycaeides melissa samuelis Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Necedah WI IMG_2529

Karner Blue (Melissa Blue) butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) on Bird’s-foot Trefoil; Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin

[Canon 7D with Canon EF 70-200mm f4 lens at 200mm with Canon 500D close up attachment; 1/160 sec. at f9; ISO 200; pop-up flash; hand-held]

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The very limited range of the Karner Blue (in dark blue) contrasting with the historic range (in light blue). Range is overlain atop the range of Wild Blue Lupine in pink.

[from American Entomologist; Vol. 61 Issue 2]

blue Karner Melissa Blue butterfly Lycaeides melissa samuelis Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Necedah WI IMG_2528

Karner Blue (Melissa Blue) butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) on Bird’s-foot Trefoil; Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin

blue Karner Melissa Blue butterfly Lycaeides melissa samuelis Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Necedah WI IMG_2352

A beautiful Karner Blue nectaring on Bird’s-foot Trefoil? Appearances can be deceiving. After I took a bunch of photos of this Karner Blue, I noticed that it hadn’t changed positions in a while…A sure sign that a predator had nabbed it. But I thought I would see the Karner Blue in the grasp of a crab spider but I was surprised to see it in the grasp of a Jagged Ambush Bug (Phymata pensylvanica). And the name of this bug says it all…It waits motionless on flowers for a victim to land nearby and then with lightning speed nabs it with its mantid-like front legs. See the close-ups below.

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Karner Blue butterfly captured by and in the grasp of a Jagged Ambush Bug (Phymata pensylvanica); Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin

blue Karner Melissa Blue butterfly Lycaeides melissa samuelis Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Necedah WI IMG_2340

Karner Blue butterfly captured by and in the grasp of a Jagged Ambush Bug (Phymata pensylvanica); Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin

blue Karner Melissa Blue butterfly Lycaeides melissa samuelis Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Necedah WI IMG_2301

The blue upper sides of a male Karner Blue (Melissa Blue) butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) on Bird’s-foot Trefoil; Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin

The male Karner Blue is bright iridescent blue above.

blue Karner Melissa Blue butterfly Lycaeides melissa samuelis Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Necedah WI IMG_2298

The blue upper sides of a male Karner Blue (Melissa Blue) butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) on Bird’s-foot Trefoil; Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin

blue Karner Melissa Blue butterfly Lycaeides melissa samuelis Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Necedah WI IMG_2273

Female Karner Blue (Melissa Blue) butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) on Bird’s-foot Trefoil; Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin

blue Karner Melissa Blue butterfly Lycaeides melissa samuelis Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Necedah WI IMG_2256

The upper sides of a female Karner Blue (Melissa Blue) butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) on Bird’s-foot Trefoil; Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin

Female Karner Blues show less blue above, but a bright orange submarginal band on hindwings.

blue Karner Melissa Blue butterfly Lycaeides melissa samuelis Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Necedah WI IMG_2251

The upper sides of a female Karner Blue (Melissa Blue) butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) on Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris); Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin

Female Karner Blues show less blue above, but a bright orange submarginal band on hindwings.

blue Karner Melissa Blue butterfly Lycaeides melissa samuelis Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Necedah WI IMG_2221

Karner Blue (Melissa Blue) butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis); Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin

blue Karner Melissa Blue butterfly Lycaeides melissa samuelis Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Necedah WI IMG_2215

Karner Blue (Melissa Blue) butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis); Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin

Lupinus perennis Wild Lupine Crex Meadows Grantsburg WI IMG_0246

Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) on June 4 at Crex Meadows, Grantsburg, Wisconsin

Though the Wild Lupine was mostly done blooming at Necedah NWR during my July 20 visit, I am posting some photos of when it was at peak of bloom at Crex Meadows near Grantsburg, Wisconsin on June 4, 2018. This is the main caterpillar food for the endangered Karner Blue subspecies of the Melissa Blue butterfly. The Karner Blue’s range is limited by the presence of this flower.

Lupinus perennis Wild Lupine Crex Meadows Grantsburg WI IMG_0365
Lupinus perennis Wild Lupine Crex Meadows Grantsburg WI IMG_0371

Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) on June 4 at Crex Meadows, Grantsburg, Wisconsin

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Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) on June 4 at Crex Meadows, Grantsburg, Wisconsin

Lupinus perennis Wild Lupine Crex Meadows Grantsburg WI IMG_0375

Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) on June 4 at Crex Meadows, Grantsburg, Wisconsin

Lupinus perennis Wild Lupine Crex Meadows Grantsburg WI IMG_0243

Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) on June 4 at Crex Meadows, Grantsburg, Wisconsin

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