Hunt for Karner Blue Butterflies at Sanctuary

Hunt for Karner Blue Butterflies at Sanctuary

Sometimes you want to do something different than follow a path through the woods. Maybe you want to create an adventure or a bit of a scavenger hunt for an endangered species. One of the good things about the late spring/summer season is the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly will be laying their eggs on the wild blue lupine plants during the Memorial Day weekend. Another 2-week lifecycle will be again in late June (weather depending).

 

Because of the cold spring, the Karner Blue’s first of two sightings is later than usual. One place with documented sightings is the Karner Blue Nature Sanctuary located on Spruce Avenue just south of Croton Drive (about 3 miles east of M-37). This 95-acre parcel owned by the Michigan Nature Association looks like an abandoned field with a few scattered trees. When look around, you will notice that it is one of the few places in Michigan with dry sand prairie and oak pine barrens which is a perfect habitat for the Karner Blue.

 

Make sure to wear sturdy shoes because it can be crunchy walking around especially with many prickly pear cacti dotting the landscape. The wispy Prairie Smoke flower is also blooming. To find the small butterflies that are about the size of a nickel, look for the lupin plant that is a shamrock-styled but with longer leaves. The lupin flowers look like purple cones and are just beginning to bloom. The Karner Blue will live for only two weeks to lay the eggs on the lupine plants because it is the only thing the caterpillar larvae will eat. These butterflies do not migrate like monarchs (but I did see the orange beauties there and other species). In fact, Karners don’t like to fly very far before landing and resting, according to the local sanctuary caretaker. They are easy to see when flying but can disappear into the foliage when they land.

 

This small butterfly was nearly extinct 25 years ago. They are making a comeback at least in Newaygo County due to increased plantings of the lupin plant and other areas devoted to preserving their habitat. It is also easy to tell the males from the females. Females are brown and orange, and the males have the pretty blue wings.

 

During the holiday weekend, this could be a unique activity to see an elusive endangered species. They have such intricate markings and with some stealth will pose for pictures after landing.

 

Please note: This sanctuary is open to the public but does not have a parking area or any facilities. Please plan accordingly. Parking is available along the edge of Spruce or 72ndStreet.

 

By Wendy Sinicki

The Wetland Trail – A Unique Ecosystem

 I’ve mentioned before in a previous blog that I work for TrueNorth Community Services, the parent company of Camp Newaygo. Unless people attend one of Camp Newaygo’s public events such as their “Dinners on the Ridge” series this summer (July 20 or August 10) most...

Exploring Newaygo’s Past

Growing up, in an area, we often become familiar with local history. It is taught in schools, on field trips, family members talk about "back when...", and traditions are born in recognition of the history. When you're raised in a community, you often become tired of...

Agritourism

I recently heard the term Agricultural Tourism or Agritourism for short, and was immediately intrigued by the idea, that individuals go out of their way to visit areas because of the agriculture. After a little bit of research, I realized that the idea of visiting an...

A Branstrom Park Day

I had just bought myself a new pair of waterproof low hiking boots and I needed to try them out. If you live or work in Fremont, or if you’re vacationing in the area and stop there for supplies or to grab something to eat, do yourself a favor and do not overlook...

Our First Hike

Kelley and I had always dreamed on having a home near water when we retired.  A place where we could sink down solid roots and flourish after many years of working and building a life for our family in the Detroit and the Grand Rapids areas.  So, on weekends we’d go...

Newaygo: A Truly Magical Place

This truly is a magical place.Nestled on the banks of the Muskegon River in Newaygo County rests the nostalgic town ofNewaygo, MI. The historic district of this town still features all of the old world charm and design;restored vintage buildings, bustling...

Early Spring Hike Reveals Surprises

Spring fever had struck. I needed to hike and thought Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary would be a good place to explore and get my walking legs broken in. I didn’t think I would see many wildflowers, because even the daffodils weren’t up yet, but it was sunny and...

Freedom Fest

          When I grew up, it was a seemingly simple affair. We were a small family, myself an only child, and our extended family didn’t visit often. During the cold-weather holidays, we would always venture their way, with some dish wrapped tightly in towels and hot...

Guiso What?

Guiso What?  The joy of cooking – over a fire! Campers, holiday-makers, hostesses and hosts: what is your favorite table to sit around? Is it one that you decorate during the holidays with special napkins, plates, crystal or glass? Is it the one you congregate on...

Power Paddle

            On Saturday morning at 10am, under sheets of rain, they sat waiting for the gunshot. The solo canoeists (known as C1), steadied their boats in the chop. The shot rang out, barely audible over the wind and rain meeting the lake; the racers plunged their...

How About a Walk on The Edge?

The Edge is a hiking and biking trail that runs along the Muskegon River on roads from Hardy Dam to Croton Dam. It's a slightly downhill stretch, so if you are running expect to have a fantastic pace per mile. I participated in a race a few years ago that started at...

Take a Walk – Art Gems in Fremont

When the weather and schedule permits, I walk to pick up my children from school. This gives us a chance to talk about their day without having to navigate after school traffic and attitudes. If we drive home, the ride is filled with complaints about car-sickness and...

A Branstrom Park Afternoon

With the sun shining brightly and spring in the air, one Sunday afternoon was the perfect day to hit the trails. I headed for Branstrom Park, in Fremont, to take a tour around the hiking trails there. The trails double as the Fremont Cross Country course, and the fun...

Birds of Newaygo County

In Newaygo County we’re lucky to have a plethora of birds to see and hear while exploring the trails and natural outdoor spaces throughout the region. It is true that many birds don’t stay in Michigan during the winter-yet even then we have many bird species. One...

About The Author

Wendy Sinicki

Wendy Sinicki has been checking out the trails, paths and scenic dirt roads in Newaygo County since she was looking for a way to tire out her kids when they were toddlers. They are now out of college and she has more time to explore, but instead of running, she just walks. When not outside, she enjoys writing and reading.