|Celastrina echo echo
Common name: western spring azure
Host plant: Flowers of shrubs & trees, such as chestnut, blackberry, Prunus (cherry), maple, oak, Cornus (dogwood), Lonicera (honeysuckle)
Adult size: wingspan: 1 – 1¼ inches (2.5 – 3.2 cm)
Description & Life Cycle: Upper-side of wings on male is a violet blue colour outlined with a thin line of black against the narrow outer marginal band of white. Female is a more muted violet blue colour with smoke-grey colouring inside the thin white margin on both the forewing and hindwing. Female also has an added uniform row of smoke-grey spots along the bottom edge of the hindwing. Summer form of female has mostly white with slight smoke-grey overtones and a blush of violet blue on the hindwing. Underside of wings on both male and female is a whitish smoke-grey colour with a pattern of dark spots which can range from faint to clearly defined. There are slight variations in colouring of both sexes through each successive generation.
Not much is really known about the life cycle of the western spring azure butterfly, other than it overwinters in the chrysalis stage.
The larvae probably go through four to five instar stages with the colouring of the latter stages being either white, cream, green, or pinkish with darker stripes on its back and sides and covered in very fine hairs. It will be slug-shaped and predominantly found on flowers or flower buds. Ants could be in the vicinity as they have a symbiotic relationship with the larvae of the western spring azure. They stimulate the larvae to produce a drop of honeydew from the seventh segment on their back. The ants, in turn, remain with the larvae to deter marauding parasitic wasps and flies from laying their eggs on the larvae.
Special Notes: Celastrina echo subsp. echo is a unique species of western spring azures to BC, including Vancouver Island. This subspecies varies in colouring slightly from the species, Celastrina echo.
Western spring azure butterflies are often found in open deciduous woodlands and gardens filled with shrubs. Tend to avoid vast open areas. This is typically the first butterfly species to appear in early spring…anywhere from the middle of March into April, depending on weather. Males tend to congregate at puddles or edge of streams, sometimes in large numbers. Once mated, females lay their eggs singly in flowers or flower buds on a wide range of host plants. Both sexes die shortly after mating and egg laying.
After eggs have hatched, the larvae will feed on the flowers of the host plant. They rarely eat the leaves.
When larvae are ready to pupate, they drop to the ground and search for a concealed spot, or crevice. The smooth, oval-shaped chrysalis is a light brown or brownish-yellow colour with notable black markings.
This is a common butterfly species with no conservation concerns.
Posted on April 28, 2017