The plant is deer-resistant due to the presence of the bitter-tasting alkaloid toxins anagyrine and lupinine. Because of these toxins lupines can negatively affect livestock, causing birth defects and decreasing weight especially in young, unexperienced cattle. When cows are under stress from lactating, especially in times of low forage availability, they will consume more lupine than usual.
The federally-endangered mission blue butterfly requires either Lupinus albifrons, Lupinus formosus and Lupinus variicolor, on which their larvae feed. The butterfly becomes toxic itself when it feeds on the plant, leaving it with a bitter taste to deter predators.
Due to its potential danger to livestock, this lupine is removed from rangeland when possible, eliminating a crucial food plant from the butterfly's range.
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