Spring Azure

Celastrina ladon

By: Heidi Thompson

The Spring Azure is one of the many beautiful butterflies of North America; it inhabits Alaska and Canada south of the tundra, through the United States. There are other common names for the Spring Azure, including Common Blue, Pale Azure, Dotted Azure, Pale Blue Butterfly, Azure Blue and Jenny Lind. The wingspan of the Spring Azure is 7/8 to 1 3/8 inches. Male and female Spring Azures differ in their wings. They are blue on the upper sides, but the females have some black on the outer edge of the forewing. The upper side of the hind wing on the male and the female can be grayish-white with faded small black dots, darker gray with larger black spots, or with blotches and black margins in the center. Azures have a slow, fluttering flight and are often one of the first butterflies encountered when the first warm weather of spring arrives. They are in the Phylum Arthropoda, Class Insecta, Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies & moths), and Family Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged butterflies).

Their main habitats are the openings and edges of deciduous woods, old fields, wooded freshwater marshes, swamps, bogs, Pine Barrens, and suburban yards. During the life span of the Azure the males patrol and perch all day and are most active from mid-afternoon until dusk. The eggs from the female are laid on flower buds. The caterpillars vary in color from yellow green to pink, with a dark dorsal stripe. They live on the flowering parts of dogwoods, wild cherry, New Jersey Tea, and other woody plants. The caterpillars feed on the flowers and fruits and are tended by ants.

Written fall 2000, as a service learning project for Dr. Gary Coté's Biology 102 class at Radford University. Copyright Pathways for Radford.

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