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"Wild Blue" Artist Greeting Card

Wild Blue Artist Card

Wild Blue features two rare species, the Wild Blue Lupine and the Karner Blue Butterfly.

The back of the cards, highlighted with photos, gives a detail description about how the karner blue became nearly extinct in New Hampshire in the 1980's, and how conservation efforts were successful in bringing the karner blue and it's host plant, the wild blue lupine, back from the brink of extinction.

Available as a Fine Art Print

Matted 5x7 (11x14) $48.00
Framed with UV glass $98.00
Cards printed on 100% Recycled Paper

Price: $5.00 each
ORDER

Wild Blue Artist Greeting Card featuring The Karner Blue Butterfly and Wild Blue Lupine

Wild Blue featured in the Media!

New Hampshire Magazine logo
ulWeirs Times logoKathie Fife Photographing a Karner Blue Butterfly


New Hampshire Magazine, The Weirs Times, The Union Leader, and cover photo on WRENzine
Blue on Blue:
Photographer Captures Karner Blue atop Wild Blue Lupine

Written by Roger Amsden
Click here to read the full article

The Karner Blue Butterfly
(Lycaeides Melissa samuelis)

New Hampshire's State Butterfly

NH Conservation Status: Endangered

Federal Status: Endangered

Karner blue butterflies are legally protected in New Hampshire. Possession and take (which includes harming, harassing, injuring and killing) is illegal.

Distribution: Restricted to the Concord Pine Barrens

Description: 1" wing span. Females tend to be slightly larger than males. The upper sides of male wings are blue with a black edge and white outer fringe. The upper sides of female wings are darker blue, black, or gray with a row of orange crescents on the hind wing and a black edge with a white outer fringe. Both males and females have similar coloration on the under side of the wings. It is gray to light tan with black dots and orange crescents near the edge.

Commonly Confused Species: Spring azure and summer azure are commonly confused with Karner blues, but azures are pale blue with some black or gray dots or edges, with no orange. Eastern tailed blues are very similar to Karner blues but the biggest indicators are the tails, although the tails may be short or missing on worn individuals.

Habitat: Dependent on Pine Barrens with wild blue lupine

Female Karner Blue

 

 

 

 

The Life cycle of the Karner Blue Butterfly
Macro view of karner blue egss on a lupine leaf

Macro view of Karner eggs in the center of a lupine leaf. There are six eggs on the leaf.

 

  Karner Blue Butterfly cocoon
Karner Blue Butterfly caterpillar
This Karner Blue caterpillar - hatched just hours ago, shows how small they are in comparison to the lupine leaf. Notice the little dot on the leaf on the lower photo.  
Photos show the life size of the cocoon.


Life History: Eggs hatch in early to mid April. Larvae, or caterpillars, only eat the leaves of wild lupine. Adults are in flight from the end of May through June. Flying adults live on average for 3-4 days, but sometimes up to 3 weeks. Adults lay eggs on wild lupine or grasses near lupine. Eggs laid by these adults hatch almost immediately and the second brood adults are in flight during early to mid July. The eggs laid by this second brood overwinter on the vegetation under the snow. Since Karner blue larvae are obligate feeders of wild lupine, it is crucial that Pine Barrens experience periodic disturbance to knock back the succession of the vegetation to create sunny openings for the wild lupine to establish.

* All information obtained from the New Hampshire Fish and Game website, field notes and photography by Kathie Fife.

The Wild Blue Lupine
(Lupinus perennis)

NH Conservation Status: Threatened

The wild blue lupine, or common lupine, is a member of the Fabaceae, or pea family. It is found in the wild in pine barrens and sandy areas in the eastern United States. Fire suppression and habitat loss has led to fewer wild blue lupine in the wild. The wild blue lupine is the only food source of the caterpillar of the endangered Karner blue butterfly and is an important food source for the caterpillar of the frosted elfin butterfly. The introduction of other lupine species in its natural habitat and interbreeding between lupine species has also caused problems for the wild blue lupine population.

The blue lupine has a long stem with clusters of blue pea-like flowers. It is 8-24 inches tall. The flowers bloom from April through July.

Fish and Game Biologist, Heidi Holman looks for Karner Blue eggs on lupine plantsFish and Game Biologist, Heidi Holman
looks for karner eggs on the wild blue lupine.


Habitat
The blue lupine is found in fields and dry, open woodlands. Range The blue lupine is found from Maine south to Florida and west to Minnesota and Louisiana.

Female Karner Blue sits on the edge of a lupine leaf

Native wild blue lupine in pine barrens natural community

Fun Fact The lupine gets its name from the Latin word for wolf - lupus. It was once thought that the lupine plant absorbed or "wolfed up" all the mineral content from the soil. We now know that the plant actually is a nitrogen fixer.

Benefit Use
Wildlife:
Deer browse foliage. Birds and small mammals eat the seeds.
Attracts: Hummingbirds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Karner Blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa sub. samuelis), Frosted Elfin butterfly (Callophrys irus).

* information obtained from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Website.

Pine Barrens

What is a Pine Barren?

A rare forest type that grows on very dry soils (Windsor and Hinkly soil profiles). The dominant tree is pitch pine (Pinus rigida). Typically the understory includes plants adapted to dry conditions including low bush blueberry, scrub oak, sweetfern, bracken fern, little bluestem and other adapted plants. In southern New Hampshire, wild lupine may also be present.

Historically, fire played a major role in maintaining and regenerating Pine Barrens. Pitch pine and other Barrens plants are adapted to fire. Fire acts to reduce competition and create the sunny areas of bare mineral soil needed for pitch pine seedlings to sprout and grow.

Why are they important? Pine Barrens are home to some of the rarest wildlife in the state, especially rare moths and butterflies. In fact, the only known habitat of the karner blue butterfly in New Hampshire is one small remnant of a Pine Barren in an urban setting.

Fire! Historically, fire played a major role in maintaining and regenerating Pine Barrens. Pitch pine and other Barrens plants are adapted to fire. Fire acts to reduce competition and create the sunny areas of bare mineral soil needed for pitch pine seedlings to sprout and grow.

The pitch pine has thick, fireproof bark and its cones open and release seeds when they are exposed to fire. Wild lupine seeds can survive for years under the soil and then germinate after a fire. Other plants found in the pine barrens, like the scrub oak, have root systems that can survive fires.

Life in a Pine Barren

scrub oakNew Hampshire pine barrens were once found in Manchester, Nashua, Concord, and Ossipee. Today, pine barrens are limited to about 450 acres of land near the airport in Concord and over 2,500 acres of land in Ossipee. These pine barrens are home to a number of plant and animals species. Plants like the pitch pine, low bush blueberry, scrub oak, sweetfern, bracken fern, little bluestem, red pine, and jack pine are found in the pine barrens. The eastern hognose snake (also rare) is also found in the pine barrens. Birds found in the pine barrens include whip-poor-wills, brown thrashers, Rufous-sided towhees, and common nighthawks.

The pine barrens are also home to endangered butterflies like the Karner blue butterfly, the frosted elfin butterfly, and the Persius dusky-wing butterfly.

The Garden Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus)
- What's the difference?

Ok, so you see lupines growing all over the place in New Hampshire - on the sides of the highway, gardens, and in the fields of Sugar Hill. In fact, the folks in the north country have made an annual event around the showy lupine.

So, how could the lupine possibly be considered a "threatened" species? These large garden lupines are not the same plant as the native wild blue lupine, and the garden lupine is not native to NH at all! The garden lupine are cultivated and planted to provide an array of colors that people enjoy looking at.

This non-native garden lupine does not support the karner blue butterfly in any way. The habitats are totally different. The native lupine will only survive in pine barrens - a dry, sandy soil with associated pitch pine, scrub oak, and blueberry shrubs.

The introduction of other lupine species in its natural habitat and interbreeding between lupine species has also caused problems for the wild blue lupine population.

The Karner does not stray very far from it's home in a small area of native lupines. The butterfly overwinters in New Hampshire in the same location.

Non native lupines growing in the fields of Sugar Hill, NH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


So, is planting non-natives species a bad thing?

Kids from Concord schools help grow and plant native lupne plants at the pine barrens karner Blue conservation easement

Wild Blue Lupine

Male Karner on sweet fern

Go Native... Support your local habitat!

Before ordering native plants and seeds, be sure to check where the source is coming from. The sources may not be native to our region, and could also be contaminated with non-native noxious weed seeds. Plants grown in another state may not be adapted to thrive in NH's colder climate. Check with your local nursery and ask them if they grow their own plant stock and where the source of the parent plants come from.

Thank you.....
A very special thank you to New Hampshire Fish and Game staff and to the students who were excited to be a part of this project, and oddly enough, to Aerosmith, for the song "Living on the Edge" played over and over in my head in the hot sun. It is a fitting song - "You can't help yourself from fallin' Livin' on the edge" - a great local "native" band, which released this song around the time the Karner became the state butterfly.

All photographs taken by Kathie Fife, May 2010.
Nikon D700 with Nikkor lenses, Manfrotto tripod.
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.

 

 
 
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