The return of the blue snowflakes

Karner Blue butterfly Albany Pine Bush

The Albany Pine Bush is an unusual example of an inland pine barrens, and it's one of the few homes to an unusual inhabitant: The tiny, beautiful -- and endangered -- Karner Blue butterfly. And it's making a comeback.

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission announced Thursday that conservation efforts in recent decades have apparently had a big effect on Karner Blue populations in the Pine Bush. In 2007, the preserve was estimated to have fewer than 1,000 of the butterflies. And in 2016: more than 15,000.

Press release blurbage from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:

Twenty-five years after being federally listed as endangered, the Albany Pine Bush population of the Karner blue butterfly, an icon of the Capital District's inland pine barrens, has exceeded recovery goals for the local population, the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission (Commission) announced today. Bringing the butterfly one step closer to recovery in New York, the milestone is the result of collaboration by the Commission, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to protect the best remaining global example of an inland pitch pine-scrub oak barrens. Driven by science, the Commission's programs of controlled burning, forest thinning, restoration seeding and environmental education have also helped many other rare animals and advanced state and federal efforts to protect pollinators and young forest wildlife.

The thinning of non-native species from the Pine Bush is important to Karner Blue because they eat wild blue lupine, which doesn't survive in shade.

Somewhat famously -- as butterflies go -- the Karner Blue was classified by Vladimir Nabokov, the author and self-taught lepidopterist. It was in the hamlet of Karner, New York that he first saw one in person for himself in 1950, and returned many years after to the same spot. And he described the butterflies as "blue snowflakes" in his novel Pnin.

Earlier:
+ The Karner Blue as another sign from the Year of Odd Weather
+ The Karner Blue
+ Why the Albany Pine Bush is sandy
+ On state animals, vegetables and whatnot

photo: courtesy of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission

Comments

What a beautiful achievement. I am very proud of Albany and their efforts!

Wow. Awesome! Great conversationalist work being done!

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