KARNER BLUE “BLUES”

Have you ever seen a Karner Blue Butterfly? No? Well, you’re not alone.

pinery karnerblue 3aThese stunningly beautiful butterflies used to frequent Ontario’s black oak savannahs, laying their eggs on wild lupines, the food source for their caterpillars. But Karner Blues have been wiped out in Canada and currently are on the endangered species list in Ontario.

At Pinery Provincial Park, staff are working to restore the habitat for Karner Blues. With financial help from Mountain Equipment Co-op (an Ontario Parks’ corporate partner ) they’re hoping to re-introduce Karner Blues to the park.

Over the years, wild lupines disappeared at Pinery: eaten by the park’s growing deer population. Now, restoration work is being carried out in three project areas, where staff have conducted prescribed burns and are monitoring wild lupine re-growth. Burning the vegetation creates an ideal environment for lupines and other plants favoured by Karner Blues. Currently, the number of deer at Pinery is controlled, giving lupines and other flowering plants a chance to grow undisturbed.

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Spokesman Dave Robinson says Mountain Equipment Co-op is happy to sponsor the Karner Blue project because a healthy, diverse environment and rare species like the Karner Blue butterfly are an important part of Ontario’s natural heritage.

Mountain Equipment Co-op has sponsored two other projects in co-operation with Ontario Parks. The outdoor gear co-operative has raffled off canoes at its Ottawa and Toronto stores, with the proceeds going toward wolf research at Algonquin and water quality research at Killarney Provincial Park.

If you’d like to learn more about Karner Blue butterflies or other species at risk in Ontario, you can visit the Species At Risk website.

~ images provided by Brenda Kulon ~