animals. For example, the frosted elfin (Callophrys
irus) is a rare butterfly with only one known population in Maryland.
These frosted elfins depend exclusively on wild lupine as their larval
hostplant. Frosted elfin caterpillars are so well camouflaged that they are
nearly invisible on their favorite food source, lupine pods (see photo).
Frosted elfin adults look much like other brown elfins, except for a hoary
cast to the hairs beneath the abdomen, making them appear as if they had
been resting in a little pile of snowflakes.
The Rare Plant Conservation Program kicked off in 2009. First we examined
historical records of lupine populations. Herbarium specimens from the 19th
and 20th centuries were combined with Heritage Program records
from the 1980’s and 1990’s to document the occurrence of wild lupines in 15
of Maryland’s 23 counties. Lupines had been documented on the talus slopes
of western Maryland, the terrace gravel deposits of central Maryland, and
the ancient sand dunes of eastern Maryland.
We conducted ground surveys to see which wild lupine populations still
existed. We also asked environmental groups to report any lupine sightings.
A total of 19 populations remain, in 10 of Maryland’s 23 counties.
More lupine populations were found in the Coastal Plain (15) than in
counties west of the Fall Line (4). Three geologic