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1994 Proceedings
North American Conference on Savannas and Barrens

SUCCESSFUL CAPTIVE REARING OF THE FEDERAL ENDANGERED KARNER BLUE BUTTERFLY
(Lycaeides melissa samuelis)

David Erik VanLuven
The Nature Conservancy
New Hampshire Field Office
2 Beacon Street
Concord, NH 00301

Living in the Edge: 1994 Midwest Oak Savanna Conferences

We developed a captive-rearing technique for use on supplementing New England's only Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) population and in reintroducing Karner blues into historic sites.

Karner blue butterflies have two generations (broods) each year. The first brood hatches in the spring and flies in the early summer. The first brood's progeny are the second brood which hatches and flies during the summer. Eggs form the second brood overwinter to become the next year's first brood. The second brood generally has about three times more adults that the first brood (despite the second brood having more females to lay eggs), so it appears that the greatest mortality occurs in the first brood. We reared first-brood individuals to increase survival through this high mortality period.

In August. 1992, we held 11 gravid females from the second brood, gathered the 117 eggs they laid, and released the butterflies. A total of 113 eggs were overwintered outdoors where they experienced seasonal photoperiod and temperature changes. In the spring of 1993, 106 larvae were moved indoors onto fresh wild lupine (Lupinus perennis) leaves. Eighty nine of the larvae pupated, and 88 of these enclosed in early June, 1993; 45 male and 43 female adult Karner blue butterflies were released into the wild population's first brood. We were only able to follow a few captive-reared butterflies after they were released, but observed 10 captive-reared females mating with wild and other-released males.

The methodology used was a compilation of techniques and experience shared by Dr. Dolores Savignano (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Hadley, MA), Dr. Dale Schweitzer (The Nature Conservancy, Port Norris, NJ), Dr. Peter Spoor (Albany College of Pharmacy, Albany, NY), and Dr. Frances Chew (Tufts University, Boston, MA).

 

 
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