28 March 2010

The Karner Blue

The "Karner" Blue (Plebejus melissa samuelis) is one of the butterflies described and named by Vladimir Nabokov.
The Karner Blue is a small butterfly with an average wingspan of 25 mm. The males are an iridescent violet blue, the females are gray brown often glossed with blue, with a submarginal band of bright orange chevrons to which melissa owes its common name, Orange-margined Blue. The adults live only four or five days. They come in two broods, with adult flights in late May to early June and late July to early August at Karner and throughout the range, settling on moist sandy ground, drinking at puddles and sipping the nectar of Pine Bush flowers. When the Karner Blue was still abundant, it flew in large flocks of hundreds or thousands. The only foodplant its caterpillars feed on is wild blue lupine (Lupinus perennis L.). This makes it a highly specialized insect, vulnerable to changes in the ecosystem that affect the wild lupine.
Posted for the Crazy Cat Lady.  Via Uncertain Times. Top photo credit Bill Bouton (2008) and lower one Dave Hanson in Eau Claire, Wisconsin 2008.

4 comments:

  1. Otherwise known as the "Eastern Tailed Blue".

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbum/171581030/

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just *knew* it would be a Nabokov reference! *applause*

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you.

    the Crazy Cat Lady

    ReplyDelete
  4. bbum, there are a number of Tailed-Blues; they are a different species of butterfly. (The Karner does not have a tail).

    ReplyDelete

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