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Karner Blue Butterfly

Lycaeides melissa samuelis


The Karner blue is a small butterfly with a wing span of approximately one inch. In the male, the upper surface of all four wings is a deep violet-blue fringed with white. In the female, the upper surface is a dusky brownish blue with orange spots on the edge of the hindwing. The lower surface is a pale silver with white- ringed black spots and sometimes rows of bright orange and blue markings near the edge of the hindwings. The protective coloration of the larva, which reaches half an inch in length before changing into a pupa, perfectly matches the green leaves of the vegetation. The larva is covered with very fine hairs. The larvae, however, are highly specialized, feeding exclusively on the wild blue lupine leaves. Without blue lupine, the Karner blue would not survive.


On a Dandelion leaf (to compare size of it) In New York, the butterfly is found in certain parts of the Hudson Valley sand belt which extends from the Albany Pine Bush north to the Glens Falls area. Within its range, this species is restricted to dry sandy areas with open woods and clearings supporting wild blue lupine. This type of habitat is usually associated with pitch pine/scrub oak or oak savannah communities that are maintained by fire at an early stage of plant succession. (this was found in my yard far away from the habitat described)


Extinctions of entire populations of the Karner blue have occurred around large urban centers such as Chicago and New York City. Other populations, such as those in the Albany Pine Bush, have been reduced both by habitat destruction from urbanization and by loss of lupine through natural succession resulting from fire suppression. I'm honored to have found this, but want to let someone know so they can be protected in my area!

No species ID suggestions


Jacob Gorneau
Jacob Gorneau 5 years ago

Keith, looking back at this, I have no idea why I once thought this was a Karner Blue. The (now what I think is a moth) insect seems to have black hindwings edged with white, which would make me think a moth in the Genus Catocala. I am sorry for primarily sending you in such a wrong direction.

keithp2012 6 years ago

WOW I cant believe it this is endangered for my area! Is there anyone I can contact about my find?

Jacob Gorneau
Jacob Gorneau 6 years ago

Although the Karner Blue has a orange edging in the wikipedia entry, it does not have to.

keithp2012 7 years ago

need id

keithp2012 7 years ago

I tried, but it also matched tiny butterflies, I am confused what it is?

lori.tas 7 years ago

It is a day-flying moth. Try googling that and your area and see what you get.

keithp2012 7 years ago

If it is a day-flying moth, any idea what species?

keithp2012 7 years ago

Need i.d.

West Babylon, New York, USA

Lat: 40.70, Long: -73.35

Spotted on Sep 25, 2010
Submitted on Sep 26, 2010

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