Wild Lupine Insect Visitors

Wild Lupine ~ Lupinus perennis 

Wild Lupine is a native perennial of dry, sandy sites in full sun. Flowering from late April/early May into June, the flower color ranges from light blue to dark purple.

Because of its early flowering time, overwintering queen Bumble Bees or their female offspring will visit the flowers. The irregular flower form means that the larger Bumble Bees don't have too much difficulty prying open the lower wing petals to reveal the reward inside.

Bombus auricomis

According to Illinois Wildflowers, there is no nectar reward provided by Wild Lupine, and pollen is forcibly ejected into the faces of bees.

Butterflies and moths will visit the flowers looking for nectar but come away with no reward. I photographed this Hummingbird Clearwing Moth this spring on our Wild Lupine flowers.

I also observed many Mason Bees (Osmia spp.) visiting Wild Lupine flowers this spring. They start with their rear legs prying open the petals, get a start on it opening, then use their mid and forelegs to hold the flowers open.

Wild Lupine and Mason Bees were built for each other, as Mason Bees collect pollen on their abdomens. Perfect for where the fused stamens are located just above the bottom keel, rubbing off some pollen for cross-pollination onto the Mason Bee abdomen.

Look for Mining Bees (Andrena spp.) a ground nesting native bee that emerges in early spring and visits flowers to collect pollen and nectar for nest provisioning.

Small Carpenter Bees (Ceratina spp.) also look in vain for nectar on flowers that have been forced open and are accessible as they cannot pry open the petals themselves.

Wild Lupine is a larval host plant to several butterfly and moth species, the most notable is the specialist Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides melissa) an endangered butterfly.