Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Spring Azure Host on Sourwood

On a recent post, I talked about how I discovered caterpillars consuming the flowers to my Sourwood tree. I was determined to find out what they were so I collected one and put it in a jar on my desk. A few days passed and the caterpillar formed a chrysalis, the smallest chrysalis I've ever seen! And roughly ten days later, it has emerged, no surrogate ant colony needed.

Spring Azure it is! Something in the Celastrina ladon complex. Basically there's like 4 or 5 butterflies that all look seemingly identical to one another and have a huge variety of host plants. What makes them a complex is that it's unclear how many species are involved, which ones use what host plants, and how each host plant alters the appearance of the caterpillar and the adult form. Overall this butterfly uses the flower buds Dogwoods, New Jersey Tea, and a few others but some host plants such as the Sourwood are unknown, which might suggest there are more species out there than the initial 4 or 5 believed to be in existence.