Visitors to the Pine Bush Discovery Center can get a good look at Karner blue butterflies that were raised in captivity.
Courtesy of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission
The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission recently announced a rare opportunity to view live Karner blue butterflies at the Discovery Center located at 195 New Karner Road in Albany, New York. These particular butterflies were raised as part of a captive breeding program that began in 2009. The endangered butterflies will be available for viewing at the Discovery Center through mid-July. This recovery program is a partnership of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, and the Alton Farnsworth Middle School.
Adult female Karners are captured from New York sites and immediately transported to the rearing facility in Concord, NH. Eggs produced by these butterflies are raised to chrysalises and returned to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. The adults that emerge are released into restored habitat to begin new colonies. In many cases these “new” colonies in fact represent the return of this iconic species to the very spots where it was once abundant.
“This is a very exciting, and very limited chance to see this Federally endangered butterfly,” says Discovery Center Director Jeffrey Folmer. “One question visitors often ask is ‘Where can I see the Karner blues?’ These beautiful, but tiny butterflies are rare, hard to spot, live only three to five days and are difficult to distinguish from other similar non-endangered butterflies. We now have 600 of them emerging from their chrysalises one by one and they’re on view until they all emerge.”
According to Christopher Hawver, Executive Director of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, “The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is unique. Not only does it support the best remaining example of an inland pine barrens ecosystem in the world, but it is also the place where the Karner blue butterfly was originally discovered. Recovering the Karner blue here represents an important aspect of our conservation mission and a significant aspect of Capital Region history.”