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

Fall Color Tour Time! 

Fall Color Tour Time! 

Top 5 places (and maybe a few more) to take great Fall color photosFall is my favorite time of year. I love watching the rainbow of colors change from day to day. Science says that water and temperature determine when a tree’s leaves turn colors. I don’t much care for...

Get Your Art On!

Get Your Art On!

This not so summery weather seemed to call for something fun inside today.  Newaygo County, known for its outdoor activities, has plenty of hidden treasures for these occasions.  However, this morning, I was really in for a special treat as I ventured into an...

Fresh From the Farm

Fresh From the Farm

Agriculture has long been a staple of the NewayGo County economy. One reason why Gerber Baby Food put the area on the map was because of its relationship with local farmers.  You’ll see the same focus on agriculture and locally produced fruits and vegetables at...

Local Golf Course Wins National Award

Local Golf Course Wins National Award

Waters Edge Golf Course in Fremont, MI has initiated substantial changes. The entire staff at Waters Edge is excited to announce their Grand Opening of Holes #5 and #6. Ray Hearn, a nationally recognized Golf Course Architect, was hired by Waters Edge to design and...

The Wetland Trail – A Unique Ecosystem

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

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

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

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

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

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...

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.