Karner Blue Butterfly

Karner Blue Butterfly on Wild Lupine

It's amazing how much one can learn about the anatomy of a flower by drawing it. I'd long avoided drawing pea flowers, partly because they tend to be in clusters (which I have less patience for), and partly for their odd shape. However, when I decided to draw the Karner Blue Butterfly, and learned in some brief research how important wild lupine is the butterfly, I decided it was time to expand my horizons. So here we are--a vertical cluster of pea flowers to ensure butterfly survival.

The Karner Blue, Plebejus melissa samuelis, is a small, endangered butterfly found primarily around the Great Lakes. Wild lupine provides the sole food for the larvae. If I understand correctly, garden varieties of lupine won't cut it--it has to be the wild lupine, Lupinus perennis. Vast stands of the plant are a common sight in road ditches in June up and down the North Shore of Minnesota. 

I thought it interesting that in this species of butterfly, the female is the more spectacularly colored, with orange crescents along the edge of the blue wings, while the males lack orange on the topside. Both are soft gray on the underside with patches of orange along the edges.