Karner Blues by LeAnn R. Ralph
copyright 2005 LeAnn R. Ralph
One early May evening when my husband, Randy, and I went for a walk along the dirt road north of our house, we saw our first Karner Blue butterfly of the season.
I am always thrilled to see a Karner Blue because, after all, it is not every day that an endangered species flits across my path.
Karner Blues are tiny blue butterflies that are exactly the same color as the blue flowers of the lupine plants that are their habitat. And the highest population of Karner Blues in the world is right here in Wisconsin.
Sometimes when I am down at the barn, a Karner Blue will stop by to find moisture in the mud near the barn door. Sometimes I will see a Karner Blue in the backyard. And often, after the Karner Blues are more active, I will come across little flocks of them when I walk along the dirt road.
I grew up seeing Karner Blue butterflies but didn't think a thing of it. I had no idea they were so rare. I always regarded them as enchanting little butterflies -- and they really are quite small, only about the size of the tip of my finger -- but I never knew why or how they were so unusual. It was only later on that I discovered they are rare and that the lupine plants are their habitat.
Later in May, the lupine will be in bloom. The lupine plants favor sunny hillsides, and the biggest patch of it near my house is on the steep powerline right-of-way across the road. When the lupine blooms, the hillside is blue with color.
The lupine flowers are so pretty that I am tempted to pick them and put them into a bouquet. Then I remember the Karner Blue butterflies need the flowers to help them survive, and the temptation passes. It is enough to see the blue flowers on the hillside -- and to know that because the lupine plants are there, the Karner Blues will still visit my yard.
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