Wisconsin seeks volunteers to search for endangered butterflies

An area along the upper St. Croix is prime Karner blue habitat, and population monitoring can help protect the rare insects.




3 minute read

Via the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources:

Karner blue butterfly observations in the St. Croix River watershed, via iNaturalist.

Wisconsin has the planet’s largest population of the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly, and we need your help surveying them on state properties where we’ve improved their habitat. All required training is online for 2021.

(Editor’s Note: A part of the St. Croix River watershed centered on the sand barrens area along the river in Burnett County is a zone of Karner blue habitat separated from the rest of the butterfly’s home by about 75 100 miles.)

There are two free online training videos available to watch, as well as a follow-up quiz. An optional virtual field day via Zoom is set for June 11 at 1 p.m. Email Chelsea.Weinzinger@wisconsin.gov to request the Zoom link.

More about Karner blues

Lupine in the Karner blue’s sand barrens habitat. (Derek Anderson/iNaturalist)

The Karner blue butterfly is a federally endangered butterfly. Wisconsin is one of the last remaining strongholds in the entire Karner range. The Karner Volunteer Monitoring Program’s goals are to document Karner observations throughout the state in order to track the population status, distribution, and trends. These data add to our long term data set and also aid the DNR in habitat management decisions. Data collected by volunteers is instrumental in allowing us to meet these goals.

Karners, like other butterflies, are very sensitive to environmental changes making them excellent indicators of healthy ecosystems. They serve as an early warning system for the ecosystem.

Karners’ only host plant, wild lupine, grows in sandy soils, commonly found in barrens, prairies, and savannas. These types of habitat are also globally imperiled. The conservation and restoration work we do for Karners also benefits these habitats which over 50 other SGCNs (species of greatest conservation need) require for survival.


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Wisconsin seeks volunteers to search for endangered butterflies