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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Karner Blue Habitat

Today was my second and last day volunteering for the Karner Blue Butterfly count. I worked with Erin again, and that was fun because we had learned that we work well together. We checked three sites today, but didn't see any of the butterflies. That may only mean that they haven't emerged yet in those plots.

It's still blazing hot here. We were glad enough that it didn't take all day to finish. Actual temps were over 90, with the heat index over 100.

I thought I'd show you what the Karner Blues like in terms of habitat. The key component is the presence of Wild Lupine. The first picture shows one of the butterflies on those leaves. They lay their eggs on the lupine, and the larvae eat the leaves.

karner blue butterfly on wild lupine

They also have favorite flowers for nectar to feed on when they are adults. This was new information to me. First is Horsemint, Monarda Punctata. I think it looks odd- like the flowers aren't flowers but pale leaves.

photo label

Their other favorite is more common, just wild Yarrow, Achillea millefolium.

wild yarrow

All of these plants grow primarily out in the open. The most typical kind of site we surveyed was an old glacial kettle hole. You can tell in the lowest area there is a little more moisture because different kinds of plants grow there, even though it's not a lake any more. Prairie plants will grow in these, yes even in Michigan.

dry kettle hole

The other ecosystem the Karner Blues like is savannah. That is typically open grassy areas with an overstory of scattered trees so that sun can still reach the ground. This is a typical Midwest oak savannah. Most of the ones in Michigan have disappeared, but the Forest Service has been doing some controlled burns to open them up again. This little space looks like it hasn't needed burning. Again, the important thing is that the plants the butterflies like can grow.

oak savannah

I did see some other interesting things, and got pix of some of them. They may show up here over the coming days if I need something good to use.

See Counting Karner Blues


RNSANE said...

It is wonderful that you do this work, Joan. Nice photos of the butterfly habitat.

RNSANE said...

It is wonderful that you do this work, Joan. Nice photos of the butterfly habitat.

rainfield61 said...

We always learn something when working on another thing.

spinninglovelydays said...

This is really very inspiring. I'd like to participate in something similar locally. I'll ask around. Great activity for homeschoolers too.

Ratty said...

A very interesting post. The Horsemint is strange looking in a good way. I like it.

Sharkbytes said...

Carmen- it's all selfish- I love learning this new stuff.

rainfield- and i learned today's dragonfly on the butterfly trip too

ivy- you could set up a little plot in your yard (do you have one) or a nearby empty field and keep track of the wildlife you see. kids love this.

ratty- i like the horsemint too. it really looks like someone dumped talcum powder on some green plant.

Ann said...

Can't imagine being out in that heat all day, glad it didn't take you that long. I have both lupine and yarrow in my yard, hmm maybe I should check them for butterfly eggs :)

James said...

Hello, I enjoyed your Karner Blue Habitat post. I am wondering if I may use photo number 5 in a ecological restoration management plan I am writing for a friend of mine.

That photo is a very good example of how she is wanting her land to look like over the next decade of the restoration management.

The plan is for her personal use only, and I have cited the web address to this specific post in my works cited section.

Thank you for your time,


James said...


I am writing an ecological restoration management plan for a friend of mine. I am wondering if I have your permission to use photo number 5. It is a great photo of the site condition she wishes to move her land towards over the next decade.

I have cited this post in my references section of the plan, as well as citing the post in the caption of the photo.

The plan is for her personal use only.

Thank you for your time!

Sharkbytes said...

James- That will be fine- thanks for asking! Is this high enough resolution or do you want the original. Email me at if you need more.


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