Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 41-47

First online:

The co-occurrence of an introduced biological control agent (Coleoptera: Coccinella septempunctata) and an endangered butterfly (Lepidoptera: Lycaeides melissa samuelis)

  • Nancy A. SchellhornAffiliated withCSIRO Entomology Email author 
  • , Cynthia P. LaneAffiliated withCSIRO Entomology
  • , Dawn M. OlsonAffiliated withCSIRO Entomology

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Whether a biological control agent presents a non-target risk to a native species depends if they co-occur spatially and temporally, and if the agent will harm the native species. We sampled two study sites during 1993 in Minnesota and Wisconsin to survey predators and parasitoids of the extant populations of the United States federally endangered Karner blue butterfly, Lycaeides melissa samuelis. We found the introduced coccinellid Coccinella septempuntata co-occurring spatially and temporally with eggs, larvae and adults of L. m. samuelis. The two species were also observed together on the latter’s sole host plant, Lupinus perennis, and in Wisconsin, an adult C. septempunctata was observed consuming second instar larvae of L. m. samuelis. Using a simple model to hypothesize the risk that C. septempunctata presents to L. m. samuelis, we showed that increases in predator density could greatly increase mortality to L. m. samuelis. At these sites, C. septempunctata were reproducing and had access to summer aphids and suitable overwintering habitat. Nearby agricultural crops could provide spring aphids for oogenesis, and assist with C. septempunctata population build-up. Maintaining a minimum isolation distance between agricultural crops known to harbor aphids and extant L. m. samuelis populations may need to be considered as part of the butterfly management program.


Biological control Coccinella septempunctata Endangered species Lycaeides melissa samuelis Non-target effects