Northern Spring Azure - Celastrina lucia
Taxonomy of western North American Celastrina is in flux, with some authorities listing lucia as a subspecies of C. ladon and others including ladon as a synonym for C. argiolus (Scott 1986; Pratt et al. 1994; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002; Acorn and Sheldon 2006; Schmidt and Layberry 2016). Sections of this account probably include information for more than one taxon now considered a full species.
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.0-1.4 cm. Tailless, lacking orange markings; sexually dimorphic. Uppersurface of males unmarked blue, females blue with at least some black on outer half of forewing; both sexes with undersurface of forewing and hindwing grayish with charcoal marginal band, hindwing with black-gray irregular disk blotch and spots.
One flight; mostly mid-June to early August in Newfoundland and Labrador, mid-May to mid-June in the Arctic, May to mid-June in Saskatchewan, mostly May in the Rocky Mountains (Scott 1986). April or May to August (at higher elevations) in the Rocky Mountain states (Glassberg 2001). Late April to early June in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).
Probably best determined by being tailless and lacking orange markings; uppersurface of males unmarked blue, females blue with at least some black on outer half of forewing; both sexes with undersurface of forewing and hindwing grayish with charcoal marginal band, hindwing with black-gray irregular disk blotch and spots.
Alaska east across boreal Canada to Labrador and Newfoundland, south to Washington, Idaho, Montana, the Great Lakes region, and New England (Pratt et al. 1994; Pyle 2002; Acorn and Sheldon 2006; Schmidt and Layberry 2016); elevation range poorly described. In Montana, C. argiolus reported from western half of state (Kohler 1980; Shepard and Opler 1993), but includes a mix of C. lucia, C. ladon, and C. echo; northern counties probably primarily lucia, southern counties primarily ladon, with echo across western half of state (see Pratt et al. 1994; Guppy and Shepard 2001; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database); to 1645 m elevation. Common to abundant (Glassberg 2001), but comment pertains to lucia, ladon, and echo combined under C. ladon.
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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Woodlands, shrub lands, riparian corridors, (Scott 1986; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002). Habitat in Montana uncertain, in part due to taxonomic confusion, but likely similar to other areas; in Glacier National Park, C. argiolus ladon reported from montane mesic meadows (Debinski 1993), which may refer to this species.
Larval food plants diverse, including Adenostoma, Amelanchier, Arbutus, Baccharis, Ceanothus, Celastrus, Chamaebatiaria, Cornus, Diervilla, Eriodictyon, Eriogonum, Heteromeles, Holodiscus, Jamesia, Kalmia, Ledum, Lotus, Lupinus, Petrophytum, Physocarpus, Prunus, Ribes, Rhododendron, Sambucus, Spiraea, Vaccinium, and Viburnum (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986, 1992, 2006; Pratt et al. 1994; Pyle 2002; Schmidt and Layberry 2016). Adults in the west feed on flower nectar (including Aletes, Antennaria, Arctostaphylos, Barbarea, Berberis, Ceanothus, Cerastium, Clematis, Daphne, Harbouria, Jamesia, Lasthenia, Leontodon, Lesquerella, Mertensia, Physocarpus, Potentilla, Prunus, Salix, Senecia, Thlaspi, Tussilago, Viola), rotting wood, horse manure, ash, and mud (Pyle 2002; Scott 2014).
Females lay eggs singly on host plant flower buds (Scott 1986, 1992, 2006; James and Nunnallee 2011). Eggs hatch in about 3-6 days. Larval development rapid, from egg to L4 instar and pupation in 12-25 days after egg-laying. Prepupal L4 instar wanders off host plant before pupating. Adults eclose (emerge) from non-diapausing pupae in 7-19 days; overwinter as pupae. Larvae do not build nests, are tended by ants (Camponotus, Formica, Tapinoma) (Scott 1979, 1986, 1992; James and Nunnallee 2011; Schmidt and Layberry 2016). Males patrol throughout the day near and around host plants in valley bottoms, on slopes and ridges, in search of females (Scott 1975b, 1986).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Acorn, J. and I. Sheldon. 2006. Butterflies of British Columbia. Edmonton, Alberta. Lone Pine Publishing. pp.360
- Debinski, D. 1993. Butterflies of Glacier National Park, Montana. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural History, the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. No. 159: 1-13.
- Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown (eds). 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountains. Univ. of Oklahoma Press. Norman. 442 pp.
- Glassberg, J. 2001. Butterflies through Binoculars: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Western North America. Oxford University Press.
- Guppy, C.S. and J.H. Shepard. 2001. Butterflies of British Columbia: including western Alberta, southern Yukon, the Alaska Panhandle, Washington, northern Oregon, northern Idaho, northwestern Montana. UBC Press (Vancouver, BC) and Royal British Columbia Museum (Victoria, BC). 414 pp.
- James, D.G. and D. Nunnallee. 2011. Life histories of Cascadia butterflies. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press. 447 p.
- Kohler, S. 1980. Checklist of Montana Butterflies (Rhopalocera). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 34(1): 1-19.
- Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright. 1999. A field guide to western butterflies. Second edition. Peterson Field Guides. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 540 pp.
- Pratt, G.F., D.M. Wright, and H. Pavulaan. 1994. The various taxa and hosts of the North American Celastrina (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 96(3): 566-578.
- Pyle, R.M. 2002. The butterflies of Cascadia: a field guide to all the species of Washington, Oregon, and surrounding territories. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington. 420 pp.
- Schmidt, B.C. and R.A. Layberry. 2016. What Azure Blues occur in Canada? A re-assessment of Celastrina Tutt species (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae). ZooKeys 584:135-164. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.584.7882
- Scott, J.A. 1975b. Mate-locating behavior of western North American butterflies. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 14:1-40.
- Scott, J.A. 1979. Hibernal diapause of North American Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 18(3): 171-200.
- Scott, J.A. 1986. The butterflies of North America: a natural history and field guide. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
- Scott, J.A. 1992. Hostplant records for butterflies and skippers (mostly from Colorado) 1959-1992, with new life histories and notes on oviposition, immatures, and ecology. Papilio new series #6. 185 p.
- Scott, J.A. 2006. Butterfly hostplant records, 1992-2005, with a treatise on the evolution of Erynnis, and a note on new terminology for mate-locating behavior. Papilio new series #14. 74 p.
- Scott, J.A. 2014. Lepidoptera of North America 13. Flower visitation by Colorado butterflies (40,615 records) with a review of the literature on pollination of Colorado plants and butterfly attraction (Lepidoptera: Hersperioidea and Papilionoidea). Contributions of the C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthopod Diversity. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University. 190 p.
- Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies: including adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Unpubl. Report. Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado 275 pp.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
- Allen, T.J., J.P. Brock, and J. Glassberg. 2005. Caterpillars in the field and garden: a field guide to the butterfly caterpillars of North America. Oxford University Press.
- Brock, J.P. and K. Kaufman. 2003. Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY 284 pp.
- Warren, A.D. 2005. Lepidoptera of North America 6: Butterflies of Oregon, their taxonomy, distribution, and biology. Contributions of the C. P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Colorado State University. Fort Collins, Colorado. 406 pp.
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