Karner Blue

Karner Blue
Photo: FWS

The IndyStar is reporting that the Indiana Dunes Park population of Karner Blue butterflies may be extinct. 2012 was a drought year- bad for many species of butterfly in Indiana. Intense heat with many days over 100 degrees F and little rainfall left many hostplants stressed, senescing prematurely or with great reduction in nectar. The weather in winter and early spring 2012 was unsesonably warm and led to many Karner Blue caterpillars emerging prior to their host plant, lupine. The early emergers starved. The intense heat ended the lupine season early, before the second generation Karner Blues could complete development. In 2014, only 4 males were counted in the park. A good year would have over 1000. Extinction pronouncements are uncertain as absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Some individuals could have escaped notice. The recent problems for Karner Blues are tied to climate change, including more extreme events that negatively impact the population. When the population is small, fragmented and in a limited area, the chances of extinction are greater.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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