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NH’s state butterfly is an endangered species

NH’s state butterfly is an endangered species

Karner Blues became the official New Hampshire state butterfly in 1992, but by 1995, there were only an estimated 50 Karner Blue butterflies in the state due to habitat loss. Ed Reschke/Getty

By Katy Savage

March 27, 2024

Did you know the New Hampshire state butterfly is endangered?

A small blue butterfly with a wingspan of one inch, the Karner Blue (Melissa Blue) is New Hampshire’s state butterfly — and it’s currently only found in a small population in southern New Hampshire, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

You can identify male Karner Blue butterflies by their silvery blue or dark blue wings, while females have gray-brown wings with bands of orange inside.

Karner Blues are typically found near oak savannas and pine barrens in semi-shaded areas, where the Karner Blue caterpillar eats wild bluebonnet flowers, also called lupine. They became the official New Hampshire state butterfly in 1992, but by 1995, there were only an estimated 50 Karner Blue butterflies in the state due to habitat loss.

Efforts to save the butterfly have been underway in the state since it was thought to have been extirpated in 1999, with its last sighting in a power line corridor in Concord. New Hampshire Fish and Game biologists initiated a rescue effort by collecting Karner Blue butterfly eggs from New York in 2000 before raising and releasing thousands of adult butterflies into the wild a year later. 

New Hampshire Fish and Game continues to manage 300 acres of pine barrens habitat in Concord, with controlled burning, brush cutting, and native vegetation planting to support stabilizing the Karner Blue butterfly population.

Conservation groups have also been involved. In 2000, Kids for Karners was established to involve local school children. Over 15 years, students from Concord schools grew lupine in their classrooms and planted it in the spring to improve the butterfly habitat.

To donate or for other ways to help, click here. 

Author

  • Katy Savage

    Katy Savage is an award-winning reporter with more than 10 years of experience working in daily, weekly and digital news organizations as both an editor and reporter. Katy is a New England native and has a passion for telling stories about where she grew up.

CATEGORIES: ANIMALS
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