Ecologists label the area of the world where I live as the, “Connected Pine Grove.” This classification refers to the naturally occuring pockets of Karner Blue butterfly habitat areas between Albany, Saratoga and the greater Glens Falls region. The Wilton Wildlife Preserve, just outside of Saratoga Springs, NY is the key protected area serving as a re-population space for the endangered Karner Blue butterfly. The hallmark ecological partner species, existing in a perfect symbiotic relationship with the Karner Blue butterfly, is the Blue Lupine. Beautiful, native plant Blue Lupine co-evolved with the Karner Blue butterfly as they require the same ecological conditions. Sandy soil, forest or forest edge are ideal, usually Eastern White Pine forests.
Karner Blue butterflies need the Blue Lupine for every aspect of their lifecycle. The adults lay their eggs on the plants. The larvae and catterpillars eat Blue Lupine foliage exclusively- and so it is critical that Saratoga gardens incorporate this keystone habitat species. The adults also gather nectar from the beautiful blue-ish purple cone-shaped flowers. A native plant species will occur naturally in the wild; it is best to acquire Blue Lupine and other native wildflowers from nurseries.
Male Karner Blue butterfly.
Gardening in Saratoga is a joy-filled experience. The region is lush and gorgeous in the summer. Considering the region’s greater ecological neighbors and complete ecosystem adds another layer to the joy- attracting butterflies and co-existing with them enriches one’s internal life quietly. It’s an experience I hope you won’t miss. Blue Lupine, for Karner Blue butterflies is a great place to start.