Azures (Celestrina sp.) in Northwest Arkansas
Three species of Celestrina are known to occur in Newton County, Arkansas. A fourth species, the Dusky Azure (Celestrina nigra) has not been found, but the host plant Arunca doicus is here. A few pictures and notes on life history are given here.
click on any image for a slightly larger view
The Spring Azure (Celestrina ladon)
These are small azures, and highly variable, as the pictures show. Some resemble the "marginata" forms from the east coast of the US, while others are pale like "violacea" forms. Markings are generally "brownish". and blurry, not crisp. The local host plant is not known but, is probably Dogwood (Cornus), with several species that could be used. They can be very abundant, and can be found by the "hundreds" puddling on wet sand near streams. They are most common in late-March, and April, but can be found into early May. They have a single brood.
The Appalachian Azure (Celestrina neglectamajor)
These are large azures, and not too variable. They are "chalky" white below, and the darker, red-brown markings, are usually very sparse. Two other differences seem to be consistant in the Ozark population. They have reddish-brown sub-terminal markings on the antennae (usually white in the other two species), and the top of the abdomen is much more heavily marked on average, than the other two species. The dorsal surface of the hind-wing is white. This differs from the eastern population in the Applachian Mountains, where the hing-wing is blue (pers.comm. Harry Pavulaan) The host plant is (Cicimfuga racemosa), known by the common names of Black Cohosh, Black Snakeroot, or Bugbane. They are never common, and can only be found in the vicinity of the host plant. It grows here, on mountain sides with damp, rich soil, and commonly in association with May Apple, Solomon's Seal, Jack-in-the-pulpit, and Paw Paw Tree. I have tentative sightings at the end of April, but largest numbers in mid-May, with females laying eggs into late-May. They have a single brood.
The Summer Azure (Celestrina neglecta)
These are variable in size, but not too variable in pattern or color, at least to the extreme of the Spring Azure. They are "bluish" white below, and the darker, crisp blackish markings, are usually sparse compared to the "Spring" Azure, but more than the Appalachian Azure. The host plant is unknown here. These are common, and can be found in good numbers, particularly "puddling" on wet sand. I have tentative sightings of these in early-May, but largest numbers, with many "fresh" individuals in late-May. This species has multiple broods, and is fairly common from late-May, through the fall.
digital images by Bob Barber - Jasper, Newton County, AR