Fort McCoy makes room for butterflies

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

FORT MCCOY, Wis (WEAU)- Butterflies and guns are an odd combination at Fort McCoy.

The endangered species of the Karner Blue Butterfly has made Fort McCoy its home. They feed off the Lupin plant and other nectar plants that happen to be growing right where a new firing range is being built.

Soldiers and butterflies will be living side by side, but biologists are working on a way to make sure none of the butterflies get stepped on.

Endangered species biologist Tim Wilder is now building the Karner Blue Butterfly a new habitat, away from the construction.

“We’re tilling up small patches and planting two pounds of Wild Lupin seed per acre. Wild Lupin is the host plant for the butterfly,” said Wilder.

The little butterfly is about the size of a quarter and lives only 5 to 7 days. It lays it’s eggs only on or near Lupin plants. The new firing range will destroy a few acres of the habitat.

“It’s the only plant the larva will feed on so if you don’t have Wild Lupin you don’t have the butterfly,” said Wilder.

The seeds that are being planted this fall will germinate in the spring. They hope the butterflies will make it their habitat by 2014.

“We look at it as supporting the military. They can continue what they need to do as far as training, and we take care of the natural resources,” said Chief of Natural Resources Mark McCarty.

And the butterfly isn’t the only endangered species Fort McCoy is housing.

“We have two packs of wolves, some bald eagles, and lots of endangered bugs that live in the 60 thousand acres known as Fort McCoy” said Wilder.

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