Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa)
Watercolor and colored pencil

Karner Blue Butterfly inhabits grassy sandplains, pine barrens and oak savannas, with populations ranging from the upper Midwest to the East Coast and Canada. It was listed as endangered in 1992 and is believed to be extinct in several states, including Massachusetts, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Populations are dwindling and becoming isolated due to habitat loss from urban and agricultural development, deforestation and fire suppression. Many of the plants which this species feeds upon exist primarily in areas that experience a regular fire regime, such as the scrubby oak-pine forest. In addition, it is directly dependent upon the Blue Lupine plant, which is the sole food source for the Karner Blue caterpillar. The Lupine is rapidly being replaced by agricultural land. The Karner Bue is about an inch wide with beautiful blue and silver colorings. The female is slightly darker than the male, with orange dots on the hind wings. They are great pollinators of the local wildflowers, and seem to have a close association with ant colonies which feed on larval secretions while protecting them from potential predators as they develop.
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