New York Natural Heritage Program
Karner Blue
Plebejus melissa samuelis (Nabokov, 1944)
Insects

Habitat [-]
Karner Blue butterflies can be found in extensive pine barrens, oak savannas or openings in oak woodlands, and unnatural openings such as airports and right-of-ways that contain lupine (Lupinus perennis), the sole larval food source. The original communities for some remnant populations in Saratoga and Warren Counties are unclear since there is little to suggest former pine barrens in these areas. Some recent populations have occurred in sandy old fields. The largest cluster of colonies was in the Albany-Schenectady County Pine Bush and parts of the region are still occupied, although today the largest population may very well be at Saratoga Airport where it occurs mainly on the approach zones.

Associated Ecological Communities [-]
  • Calcareous pavement barrens
    A savanna community that occurs on nearly level outcrops of calcareous bedrock (limestone or dolomite). The community consists of a mosaic of shrub-savanna, grass-savanna, and rock outcrop vegetation.
  • Pine barrens vernal pond
    A seasonally fluctuating pond and its associated wetlands that typically occurs in pine barrens. The water is intermittent, usually a pond in the spring but sometimes losing water through the summer to become a mostly vegetated wetland at the end of the summer. These ponds and wetlands may be small.
  • Pitch pine-oak forest
    A mixed forest that typically occurs on well-drained, sandy soils of glacial outwash plains or moraines; it also occurs on thin, rocky soils of ridgetops. The dominant trees are pitch pine mixed with one or more of the following oaks: scarlet oak, white oak, red oak, or black oak.
  • Pitch pine-scrub oak barrens
    A shrub-savanna community that occurs on well-drained, sandy soils that have developed on sand dunes, glacial till, and outwash plains.
  • Successional northern sandplain grassland
    A meadow community that occurs on open sandplains that have been cleared and plowed (for farming or development), and then abandoned. This community is usually dominated by low, dry turf of sedges and grasses less than 30 cm (12 inches) tall, and include patches of open sand and patches of soil covered with mosses and lichens.

Associated Species [-]
  • Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus)