This is the ominous sign that greeted me at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary last night, but I didn't let it stop me from entering. The Northeastern Wisconsin Audubon Society holds programs there that are open to the public and on Wednesday evening Cathy Carnes of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service presented information on the Karner Blue Butterfly, a federally endangered species.
The Karner blue was federally listed as an endangered species in 1992 and it's rare to see them in most parts of the country, but Wisconsin is home to the world's largest population of this butterfly. The Karner blues have a wingspan of about one inch and the adult butterflies live only 5-7 days.
Karner blues can be found in seven states - Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, New Hampshire, New York and Ohio. These states have an abundance of open areas with sandy soils that support the wild lupine plant. The caterpillar of the Karner blue feeds exclusively on lupine leaves.
This photo was taken last summer and even though I own two butterfly identification books, I'm still not sure what species it is. My guess is a swallowtail of some sort.
I have a sudden urge to grab a butterfly net and run out into a field of wild flowers in search of butterflies.