PORTER, Ind. (AP) -
The endangered Karner blue butterfly hasn’t been found this spring at the
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and officials say they’re worried the tiny
insect could be gone.
Surveys in the late
1990s found more than 1,000 of the butterflies in the park along Lake
Michigan but those numbers declined to where only two were spotted last
year, U.S. Geological Survey research ecologist Ralph Grundel told The
Grundel has spent
more than 20 years studying Karner blue butterflies in the dunes.
When the Karner
blue was listed as a federally endangered species in 1992, researchers
determined the biggest problem was a loss of the wild lupine plant it feeds
on as caterpillars.
Grundel said the
early spring and hot summer in 2012, caused caterpillars to emerge before
the plants had grown in the Indiana Dunes. Many of the lupine plants then
died during the hot, dry summer.
“It was bad on both
ends,” Grundel said. The 2012 weather “might have been just enough to push
the populations over the brink.”
executive director of Save the Dunes, said she is “very concerned” the
Karner blue might be gone from the southern shore of Lake Michigan.
“Are we losing
these species because we’re not restoring habitat quickly enough?” Barker
have been recorded this year in Wisconsin, Michigan and New York and where
they were reintroduced in Ohio and New Hampshire.
“We’re looking here
in Indiana at the possibility of reintroducing it,” Grundel said. “The
National Park Service would have to decide that."