Karner blue butterfly

buggyridge.com

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (AP) - Enthusiasts across Michigan want to know: Where are the butterflies this year?

The Detroit Free Press says official data are being collected by monitoring groups around the state.

But anecdotally, it's not looking great.

Just ask Joe Derek.

Butterflies are absent from Derek's naturally landscaped property in Farmington Hills, where he grows 2 acres of native plants known to draw the fluttering beauties.

user Hollingsworth, J & K / wkimedia commons

The Karner blue butterfly, an endangered species native to parts of the Midwest, including Michigan, is getting some help from the U.S. environmental authorities.

The Associated Press reports:

The U.S. Forest Service is restoring a savannah-type landscape in the southern part of the Manistee National Forest to create habitat for the endangered Karner blue butterfly.

Officials say the work will take place this summer in Muskegon and Oceana counties. The goal is to create a grassy environment that will promote growth of colorful lupine plants, on which the butterflies feed during their caterpillar stage.

Other species that thrive in such a setting include Hill's thistle, the golden-winged warbler, dusted skipper, and eastern box turtle. It's also good for game species such as wild turkey, white-tailed deer and ruffed grouse.

The Forest Service will remove some trees and set controlled fires to develop the savannah habitat. It also will close many unauthorized "two-track" roads that cause erosion.

More information about efforts to protect the Karner blue can be found on the Environment Report, or if you are feeling festive, consider attending the Karner Blue Butterfly Festival  this summer in Black River Falls, Wisconsin.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom