Meet the stunning spring azure butterfly

The Spring azure butterfly is a beautiful, tiny, and short-lived diurnal butterfly. The male displays an iridescent blue on the upper side, and the female has dark blue shades with prominent black margins on the forewings and hindwings.

spring azure butterfly species summary

Scientific NameCelastrina ladon
Family NameLycaenidae
KingdomAnimalia
GenusCelastrina
HabitatOld fields, edges and openings of deciduous woods, and freshwater swamps
RangeCanada, Alaska, and other US locations except for Texas and peninsular Florida
Host PlantsShrubby dogwoods, wild pea, vetch, blueberries, alfalfa, viburnums, and white clover
Butterfly DescriptionAdult male displays light or iridescent blue, and females display dark blue shades
Caterpillar DescriptionThe Spring azure caterpillar’s color is variable, brown, green, or whitish green with minor green marks on the segmented body

What does a Spring Azure butterfly look like?

The Spring azure butterfly has an average wingspan of 1 to 1.25 inches (2.5 to 3.2 cm). The ventral side of the wings is light gray with black spots.

The male Spring azure butterfly is a mostly iridescent blue, while the female displays dark blue shades with a dark marginal band bordering the front and the hindwings.

The underside of the Spring azure butterfly can be gray-whitish with small faded black spots, gray dark with large black spots, and patches of black margins in the center. The butterfly is fuzzy with big shiny black eyes on a brown head with black edges.

Comparison with marine blue butterfly

Azure on the left, Marine blue on the right
Azure on the left, Marine blue on the right

Both species are small in size and are sexually dimorphic, and exhibit color variations. They’re also in the same family.

However, the Spring azure butterfly’s lifespan is shorter ranging from 2 to 5 days, different from that of a Marine blue butterfly which ranges from 4 to 10 days. You can differentiate them by the undersides of their wings — Marine blue has more complex patterns.

Eastern-Tailed Blue Butterfly vs. Spring azure

Eastern-tailed blue butterfly on the right
Eastern-tailed blue butterfly on the right

Both species prefer legumes as host plants, and they habitually gather around mud paddles to gather nutrients and moisture for the breeding season. Eastern-tailed blue butterfly has 2 tiny tails on the end of their hindwings, while Spring azure doesn’t.

The Eastern-tailed blue butterfly has about 3 broods per annum, while the Spring azure butterfly produces only 1 generation.

Common Blue Butterfly comparison with spring azure

Common blue on the right
Common blue on the right

Both species are classified as small, although the Common blue butterfly is slightly bigger than the Spring Azure butterfly. Common blue has more brown on the wings’ undersides and a somewhat broader and fuzzier body.

How is Holly Blue Butterfly different from the spring azure butterfly?

Holly blue butterfly on the right
Holly blue butterfly on the right

The Holly blue butterfly can have 1 to 3 broods yearly, depending on location and weather, while the Spring azure butterfly only has 1 brood annually.

The underside of a Holly blue butterfly’s wings is silvery blue to white, while that of a Spring azure butterfly is gray-whitish with more dots and lines.

spring azure butterfly caterpillar description

The Spring azure butterfly caterpillar comes in different color variations: shades of brown, green, or pinkish green.

Like other species’ larvae, its body is segmented with pale lateral bands on each segment to blend it perfectly with its environment.

What is the lifespan of a Spring Azure butterfly?

The lifespan of a Spring azure butterfly is one of the shortest of all butterflies in the Lycaenidae family — 2 to 5 days. The eggs hatch in 3 to 6 days, and it takes 12 to 25 days from egg laying to pupation. Adults emerge in 7 to 19 days.

Where do azure butterflies live?

Azure butterflies’ common habitats include wooded openings and edges, swamps, roadsides, and gardens.

This blue butterfly is widely distributed in Canada and the United States except for Florida and Texas coast.

What do Spring Azure butterflies eat?

Adult Azure butterflies eat nectar from flowers. Some flowers they love are New Jersey tea, dogbane, and common milkweed. They also feed on rotting fruit, mud puddles, and dung.

What do Spring Azure caterpillars eat?

Common caterpillar hostplants for Spring azures are similar to those of Summer azures. They include flowering dogwood, Collinsia, and meadowsweet.

spring azure butterfly behavior and flight

The Spring azure butterfly flies singly, and like other gossamer-winged butterflies, they land with their wings closed. This species has one brood from March to early June. Males can be seen all day, but they’re most active from late afternoon to dusk.

This woodland butterfly’s mating behavior is similar to other blue butterflies. The males use the patrol and perch strategy to find females. The females lay single eggs on flower buds.

The caterpillars have a mutualistic relationship with ants. The caterpillars secrete a sweet liquid called honeydew, which ants eat. The ants protect the caterpillar from predators in exchange for food.

Are Spring Azure butterflies poisonous?

Spring azures are not poisonous. Unfortunately, the lack of toxicity makes this butterfly susceptible to predators.

5 Spring azure butterfly fun facts

Here are 5 fun facts about Spring azure butterflies:

  1. They communicate through pheromones, chemical scents that they release to attract mates.
  2. They overwinter in diapause, which is a state of dormancy that helps them survive the winter.
  3. These butterflies of North America flutter rapidly, so it can be challenging to get a clear picture of them.
  4. Adults emerge early in the spring.
  5. Adult males can live in moist woodlands near bodies of water.

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