Species at Risk

Karner Blue

Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis)

Status in Canada: Extirpated

Status in Ontario: Extirpated

Status at SWCR: Extirpated

This small butterfly has blue wings that measure only 22 to 32 mm across! Males are a brighter blue than females, who make up for it by having bright orange crescents around silver and black spots on their wings.  They are considered extirpated from Ontario, and the SWCR is focused on restoring habitat so they can someday return.

Quick Facts:

  • It was last seen in Norfolk County near St. Williams in 1988.
  • The St. Williams population is thought to have been lost in 1988 due to prolonged drought.
  • Wild lupine (Lupinus perennis) is the only plant on which it will lay eggs and on which caterpillars can feed.
  • The caterpillars form a mutualistic relationship with certain ant species, receiving protection from predators and parasites through the attentions of the ants.

Threats at the St. Williams Conservation Reserve:

Loss/Degradation of Critical Habitat: habitat deterioration due to drought, invasive species, succession and fire suppression, and herbicide use has led to the elimination of host plants (Wild lupine, Lupinus perennis).

Activities that can damage host plants and critical habitats for Karner Blue butterflies include:

  1. Activities that can introduce or encourage the growth of invasive plants, such as dumping of garden waste and off-trail ATV use.
  2. Activities that eliminate patches of dense understory or reduce structural complexity on the forest floor: Natural succession and canopy closure, excessive deer browsing.
  3. Activities that interfere with understory shrubs, unauthorized plant collecting and off-trail ATV use.
  4. Off-trail recreational activities that can trample plants, or remove them from their habitat, such as trampling, crushing under vehicles, and collecting.

St. Williams Conservation Reserve management practices:

  • Forest thinning activities
  • Invasive plant control
  • Enforcement of unauthorized trail use
  • Prescribed burns

What you can do to help:

  • Follow the code of conduct for recreational activities in the Conservation Reserve and know and respect the current trail-use regulations.
  • Clean your boots, bicycle tires, or ATV before and after visiting the SWCR or other natural areas to avoid spreading invasive plant seeds.
  • Report unauthorized trail use or any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).

More information:

Species At Risk Public Registry Profile

Ontario Species at Risk Profile

Funding for this project was provided through the Species At Risk Stewardship Fund