E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Celastrina lucia Tutt, 1906
Spring Azure
Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer Wings)
Species account authors: Crispin Guppy and Jon Shepard.
Extracted from Butterflies of British Columbia
The Families of Lepidoptera of BC
Introduction to the Butterflies of BC
Photo of species

© Norbert Kondla  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #10492)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Celastrina lucia in British Columbia
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Species Information


Adult

The upperside of the wings of the male Boreal Spring Azure are a uniform sky blue. The blue on the upperside of the female wings is also sky blue. The overall pattern is very similar to that of the Western Spring Blue. The two species are separated because they occur together in two areas in the province, and we consider this sufficient criterion to separate them into two species. David Threatful found both species flying simultaneously near Chase, BC Shepard has taken both species near Lytton, the Western Spring Azure at a lower elevation than the Boreal Spring Azure. Older literature says that the two taxa overlap broadly, but we have not found this to be true. The distribution of the two species follows that of other boreal/western species pairs that meet in BC Some of this confusion in the older literature results from synonymizing the name quesnellii (Cockle, 1910) with nigrescens (Fletcher, 1903). The population named quesnellii is the Boreal Spring Azure and the one named nigrescens is the Western Spring Azure.

Immature Stages

The immatures of the second brood in the southeastern USA were described by Edwards (1878) in some detail. The mature larva is typical of lycaenids and has the colour of the part of the plant that it is feeding on at the time, for example, green if feeding on leaves and white if feeding on flowers. When Edwards described the life cycle, he was the first in North America to notice that ants attended the larvae of the Lycaenidae.

Subspecies

Our populations are the boreal forest subspecies C.l. lucia (W. Kirby, 1837) (TL: 54° lat. [near Cumberland House, MBJ), and quesnellii (Cockle, 1910) (TL: Quesnel, BC) is a synonym. It ranges south to Quesnel, with isolated populations south to near Lytton and Chase.

Genus Description


At the time the genus Celastrina was named, the name celastrina was used for holly, the larval foodplant of the type species for this butterfly genus (Emmet 1991). The common name "spring azures" reflects the early spring flight period and the azure (blue) wing colour of males of this genus. The name was first used by Gosse (1840) for what is now subspecies lucia of the Boreal Spring Azure.

The genus Celastrina differs from all other blues in the structure of the male genitalia. The labides and vinculum are fused and developed into a broad plate extending to articulate with the valves. The eyes are hairy. Spring azures are the first blues to emerge from the pupa in the spring and are a sure sign that spring has arrived in the northern hemisphere. The genus is Holarctic, with one species across most of Europe and Russia and several in northeastern China and adjacent areas (Eliot and Kawazoe 1983). Until very recently all North American populations were regarded as one species, but Opler and Krizek (1984) recognize three, two of which are found in eastern deciduous forest habitat. Pratt et al. (1994) further defined overlapping subspecies and overlapping races of the three species but did not recognize any additional species. Several North American authors have split off the widely distributed Nearctic species Cladon from the Palearctic species C. argiolus, but the only study to look at the genus as a whole treats argiolus and ladon as one Holarctic species (Eliot and Kawazoe 1983). Observations in BC show that the two "subspecies" of ladon occur together and must be regarded as separate species. The southern C. echo is closer in appearance to C. argiolus from the Palearctic. C. ladon is therefore kept as a separate Nearctic species. Recent unpublished DNA analysis of Pratt and Wright (in prep.) support this split into two species. Thus there are four species in North America and many more in the Palearctic.

Biology


The Boreal Spring Azure has one generation per year in BC. Adults fly from late April to early June. Nothing is known of the life history in BC. In boreal eastern North America, Pratt et al. (1994) report that Vaccinium and Viburnum are the usual larval foodplants. Ledum, Prunus, and Comus are other eastern larval foodplants that may be utilized in BC.

Habitat


The Boreal Spring Azure is found throughout central and northern BC in riparian situations and along the edges of open meadows.

Distribution

Distribution

The Boreal Spring Azure is Nearctic and is found across all of boreal North America from central AK to NF and south to northeastern TX and northern FL.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
COSEWIC
NativeS5YellowNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Celastrina ladon lucia

Additional Photo Sources

General References


Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2021-09-20 12:24:28 PM]
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