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Subspecies Plebejus melissa samuelis - Karner Blue

Karner Blue - Plebejus melissa - female Karner Blue - Plebejus melissa Karner Blue Butterfly - Plebejus melissa Karner Blue Butterfly - Plebejus melissa Karner Blue Butterfly - Plebejus melissa - female Karner Blue - Plebejus melissa Karner Blue - Plebejus melissa Plebejus melissa
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers)
Family Lycaenidae (Blues, Coppers, Hairstreaks, Harvesters)
Subfamily Polyommatinae (Blues)
Genus Plebejus
Species melissa (Melissa Blue - Hodges#4375)
Subspecies samuelis (Karner Blue)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Lycaeides melissa samuelis
BugGuide follows the classification of Opler and Warren and All-Leps in lumping Lycaeides with the genus Plebejus (see discussion in Taxonomy Forum)
Explanation of Names
named after the hamlet of Karner, New York (now part of the town of Guilderland) where it was found and described by Vladimir Nabokov in 1944
one of 5 subspecies of Plebejus melissa listed at All-Leps
current populations exist in a narrow band across northeastern states from New Hampshire and New York to Michigan, Indiana, Wisconisn, and eastern Minnesota
formerly occurred in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, southern Ontario (last seen in 1991), and Ohio (last seen in 1988); efforts began in 1998 to reintroduce the Karner Blue to northwestern Ohio
oak savannas, oak-pine barrens, and other open areas with sandy soil
adults have two flights: from mid-May to early June, and from mid-July to early August
larvae feed only on Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) and are tended by ants who feed on the larvae's sugary secretions.
Kenneth Barnett shows that relationship here
Life Cycle
eggs are laid on or near the hostplant; adults live for one or two weeks; two generations per year; overwinters as an egg or newly-emerged larva
A federally endangered subspecies whose numbers have declined drastically in recent years due to habitat loss (and accompanying loss of the larval foodplant) caused by human activities of fire suppression, housing developments, and agriculture.
Internet References
subspecies account and restoration projects (Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources)
live adult images plus subspecies account and county distribution map in Wisconsin (
former and current distribution map plus subspecies account (New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation)
reintroduction efforts; PDF doc in northwestern Ohio in 1998 and 1999 (Peter Tolson et al, US Fish & Wildlife Service)
Nabokov's Karner, New York - an account of attempts to save the Karner Blue near its original discovery site (Kurt Johnson,