Home / Gossamer-Winged (Lycaenidae) / Karner Blue (Plebejus melissa samuelis)

Karner Blue (Plebejus melissa samuelis)

Karner Blue Butterfly
source: blog.savatree.com

The Karner Blue is a subspecies of the small blue butterfly, and is found in a limited area in the United States. These are very small creatures, primarily seen hovering around the wild lupine plant fields and has been declared as endangered (‘At Risk G3’) by NatureServe.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Lycaenidae
  • Genus: Plebejus
  • Common names: Blue Karner Butterfly
  • Scientific Name: Plebejus melissa samuelis

Description and Identification


Karner Blue Butterfly Caterpillar
source: nhpbs.org

The mature larva is uniformly green with a straight line running vertically across its body. They are only a few millimeters long, and after emerging, they crawl up the host plant and instantly begin consuming the leaves. This stage continues for three to four weeks before they form a chrysalis.


Karner Blue Butterfly Pupa
source: upload.wikimedia.org

The chrysalis is light green, and the stage lasts for 8-11 days.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Distinctly present

Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the dorsal part in the males display a silver or dark blue hue with thin, dark margins, while the females are gray-brown, mostly on the outer part, to blue on the top part, along with uneven orange bands narrowly bordered in black. When the wings are closed, the ventral part of both sexes is dull gray with an even band of orange crescents by the border of the wings, as well as, scattered black spots bordered with white.

Blue Karner Butterfly
source: jbzoo.org
Karner Blue
source: animalstime.com

Average wingspan: About 1 inch

Flight pattern: Fast, haphazard


Karner Blue Butterfly Eggs

Laid in late summer on a lupine plant; about 1 mm in diameter

Quick Facts

Distribution Most widespread in Wisconsin, and can also be found in parts of New York, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and probably in Illinois as well
Habitat Sunny fields, especially areas studded with wild lupines
Lifespan of adults Reportedly 3 to 5 days
Host plants Only wild lupine plant leaves
Adult diet Flower nectar

Did You Know?

  • On an average, these butterflies move around a total of 300 meters in their lifetime.
Karner Blue Butterfly Female
source: fs.fed.us
Karner Blue Butterfly Habitat
source: wildlifepreservation.ca
Karner Blue Butterfly Life Cycle
source: eekwi.org
Karner Blue Butterfly Male
source: wisconsinbutterflies.org
Karner Blue Butterfly Range
source: photonaturalist.files.wordpress.com
Karner Blue Butterflies
source: farm2.staticflickr.com

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Lycaenidae
  • Genus: Plebejus
  • Common names: Blue Karner Butterfly
  • Scientific Name: Plebejus melissa samuelis