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What Does the Karner Blue Eat?

{Author}
Dear Save the Pine Bush:

I know the Karner Blue feeds on wild lupine, can any of your biologists or naturalists tell me if it feeds on domestic lupine? Has domestic lupine ever been planted as an experiment to see what would happen?

Faithful Reader


Dear Faithful Reader:

As far as I know, the Karner Blue is very picky in what it will eat. It only feeds on the blue lupine that grows in the Pine Bush; it will not eat domestic blue lupine. I do not know if any experiments have been done with domestic blue lupine.
Actually, the Karner Blue butterfly does not eat. It is only the caterpillar that eats. During the adult stage, the butterfly will drink the nectar of the flower of the blue lupine or other flowers that are in bloom. The adult female butterfly will lay eggs only on the blue lupine.

The blue lupine that grows wild in the Pine Bush is very difficult to cultivate. State College at Cobleskill students were experimenting with planting wild blue lupine from seeds, but, I believe had very little luck in getting any of the plants to grow. Before the City of Albany bulldozed a prime Karner Blue habitat for the landfill extension, they transplanted the blue lupine from the site, and I heard that all the plants died.

Dr. Peter Spoor, who has been researching the Karner Blue for about three or four years, reported at a Save the Pine Bush dinner a couple of months ago that he has been trying to grow blue lupine. He has had limited success. But, he is going to try again by planting the seeds in the fall.

Lynne Jackson

Back to Karner Blue Butterfly Article Page

This page last modified January 12, 2008
Contact Save the Pine Bush at pinebush@aol.com.