My research investigated the role that ants play in the survival of the Karner blue butterfly population found in the pine barrens of Concord, NH, which is managed by NH Fish & Game. During the summer of 2013, I worked with NH Fish & Game to assess the effects that the status of wild blue lupine - the sole host plant for Karner blue butterflies - as well as the effects that prescribed burning history and timing of sampling had on ant species composition. I surveyed ant species across the Concord Pine Barrens and compiled Karner blue butterfly population monitoring data.
I observed a strong positive relationship between ant abundance and the number of wild Karner blue butterflies, which is consistent with previous observations that Karner blue butterflies are generally attractive to the ant species with which they are most likely to interact in a given habitat. During the Karner blue butterfly second brood, I observed that ants showed a preference for sites with restored lupine, regardless of burn status. Therefore, due to the influence of lupine on ants and second brood Karner blue butterflies, the restoration of lupine may be a key to encouraging the interaction between Karner blue butterflies and ants.