Document Type

Peer-Review Article


The Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) is listed as a federally endangered species in the United States. It occurs in oak savanna and pine barren habitats from eastern Minnesota to New Hampshire. In 1994, we successfully reared Karner blue larvae under controlled laboratory conditions for experimental purposes, and report on those rearing methods here. We collected 20 female Karner blue adults of the spring generation from two areas in Michigan, and housed them in cages in an environmental chamber at 240 -26°C for 5 days. The female butterflies produced 154 eggs, of which 72 hatched in an average of 4.5 days, and 68 first instars survived. Eggs, larvae and pupae were kept in a growth chamber at 24°C. Developmental time from egg to adult averaged 26 days; the average duration of each instar ranged from 3 to 4 days, and the average pupal duration was 8 days. Thirty three lab- oratory-reared Karner blue larvae successfully completed the 4 instars, and were released as adults into maternal collection sites. Laboratory rearing may be a viable means of providing Karner blue individuals for reintroduction into areas where the species is extirpated, for supplementation of small populations, or for research. Ultimately, such methods may become an integral part in the recovery of this and other rare invertebrate species.

Included in

Entomology Commons