"Karner blue butterflies mating"
New York, Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park
These Karner blue butterflies (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) are mating in what to me looks like the shape of a heart. They are resting on wild blue lupine leaves, the plant the Karner blue butterfly caterpillar requires as a food source. The endangered Karner blue butterfly once lived from Maine to Minnesota. In the early 1900s, the Karner blue butterfly was described as covering the landscape "in a sea of blue." Since that time, their population has declined by over 99%. I monitored Karner blue butterflies for an internship with The Nature Conservancy at the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park in upstate New York. Having the privilege of helping these butterflies survive has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. These delicate beautiful butterflies will always hold a special place in my heart.