Karner Blue Butterfly Reintroduction

The strikingly coloured Karner blue butterfly has disappeared from its Canadian range but can still be found in parts of the United States. The caterpillars need wild lupines — a member of the pea family — in order to survive. Find out more about this species.

Conservationists in the United States have proven that reintroducing Karner blues is biologically and technically feasible. However, these butterflies can’t be reintroduced to Ontario unless they have the habitat they need. That’s why we funded a 2013 assessment of wild lupine habitat in Ontario.

Results indicated that existing lupine populations in Ontario are not yet large enough to sustain a viable population of Karner blues.

Habitat restoration is ongoing at multiple sites. Once enough lupines exist in former Karner blue habitat, we will be able to use our conservation breedingexpertise to begin reintroducing this butterfly to Ontario. Ultimately, this may be the only way to save the species as climate change alters its U.S. habitat.

Jarvis, J.R. 2014. Assessing Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis L.) Habitat in Ontario, Canada for the Feasibility of Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides samuelis Nabokov) Reintroduction. (MSc Thesis) Guelph: University of Guelph.  93 pp.

Jesse Ray Jarvis assessed wild lupine habitat in 2013 as part of his M.Sc. degree from the University of Guelph.

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