The Karner Blue was first describe
d and classified
by the author Vladimir Nabokov
in 1949 on the strength of nine male specimen
s which had been collect
ed in the vicinity of Telluride, Colorado
, fifty years previously and stored in the Museum
of Comparative Zoology
. Although he initially classified it as Lycaeides melissa sublivens Nabokov
, he later (sometime in the early to mid 1970’s) concluded that it was a distinct species
, and changed its classification to Lycaeides samuelis Nabokov
In 1951 he visited Telluride with his wife (also a passionate lepidopterist) expressly for the purpose of catching the first known female specimens, and on the thirteenth day of their search he finally succeeded. His notes concerning this period can be found at http://www.lib.ru/NABOKOW/batterfly.txt and are well worth reading, since they neatly combine Nabokov’s love of precision with his seemingly effortlessly exquisite prose. An example:
"When reached at last, Telluride turned out to be a damp, unfrequented, but very spectacular cul-de-sac (which a prodigious rainbow straddled every evening)... Every morning the sky would be of an impeccable blue at 6 a.m. when I set out. The first innocent cloudlet would scud across at 7:30 a.m. Bigger fellows with darker bellies would start tampering with the sun around 9 a.m., just as we emerged from the shadow of the cliffs and trees... " (1)
- (1) Vladimir Nabokov, The Female of Lycaedes Sublivens Nab, originally published in The Lepidopterists' News, New Haven, Conn., Vol. 6, August 8, 1952; quoted on http://www.lib.ru/NABOKOW/batterfly.txt
- Vladimir Nabokov, On a Book Entitled Lolita, November 12, 1956; a postscript which appeared in later editions of his novel Lolita.
- Nabokov's Blues, The Scientific Odyssey of a Literary Genius by Kurt Johnson and Steven Coates, published by Zoland Books.