Picture Ohio! – Wild Lupines & Karner Blues

Lupine & Hoary Puccoon, Kitty Todd SNP, Ohio
Wild Lupine & Plains Puccoon, Kitty Todd State Nature Preserve, Ohio

Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) and Plains Puccoon (Lithospermum caroliniense) bloom in May and June at Kitty Todd State Nature Preserve in the Oak Openings near Toledo in northwest Ohio.

Kitty Todd State Nature Preserve is a splendid success story of the restoration and conservation of more than eight hundred acres of sand dunes, oak savanna, and wet prairie in the Oak Openings region of northwest Ohio. The preserve is owned and managed by the Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and is named for Nature Conservancy board member and Toledo conservationist Kitty Todd. The Oak Openings are home to more than a hundred state-listed rare and endangered plants, including yellow-fringed orchid, grass pink orchid, plains puccoon, and wild lupine, the host plant for the caterpillars of the diminutive Karner blue, the poster child for butterfly conservation in Ohio. The federally endangered Karner blue was extirpated from the Buckeye State by the late 1980s, but thanks to habitat restoration and the reintroduction of more than 2,500 Karner blues by staff and volunteers from The Nature Conservancy, Ohio Division of Wildlife, Toledo Zoo, and many other groups during the past decade, this tiny butterfly is once again thriving in the Oak Openings. Other rare butterflies that have benefited from the reestablishment of wild lupine are the Persius duskywing and the frosted elfin. For birders, one of the major attractions is the lark sparrow, which nests in the Oak Openings region. Mid-May to early June is usually prime time for the blooming of the wild lupine, but call the Nature Conservancy field office to find out what plants are in bloom around the preserve and whether the Karner blues are on the wing.

Male Karner Blue on Wild Lupine, Kitty Todd State Nature Preserve
Male Karner Blue on Wild Lupine, Kitty Todd State Nature Preserve

Adult Karner blues are about the size of your thumbnail, very elusive, and easily confused with the much more common eastern tailed blue butterflies. A 180mm or 200mm macro lens will allow you to approach these frisky butterflies and also produce a nice diffused background in your photograph. Don’t bother with a tripod—by the time you set one up, the Karner blues will have fluttered off to another wild lupine plant. Handhold your camera and use either a high ISO setting of 400 or 800 or a ring flash, such as the Nikon SB21.

Location: 10420 Old State Line Road, Swanton, OH 43558. Tel: (419) 867-1521
Website: www.dnr.state.oh.us/location/dnap/kittytodd/tabid/949/Default.aspx
GPS Coordinates: 41.618051N 83.791702W


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