Other Common Names
Eastern Spring Azure, Northern Azure, Northern Spring Azure
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Celastrina lucia (Kirby, 1837)
Polyommatus lucia (Kirby, 1837)
Celastrina lucia: Boreal North America.
Celastrina lucia Auctorum
: This taxon occurs in eastern NA from the Maritimes south. It is likely a different species from the Northern (Boreal) Spring Azure. See "Remarks".
Where this species occurs, it is often the first Celastrina to emerge in spring. In the mid-Atlantic region, this species often appears around the middle of April, but can come as early as March.
The primary larval foodplants are blueberries (Vaccinium). In eastern Pennsylvania, especially low-bush blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum).
• As of 2016, the status of Celastrina lucia
auctorum seems to remain unclear. It should be noted that all NA Celastrina
spp. barcode to the same BIN group at BOLD with almost no differences. (BOLD uses only part of the mitochondrial DNA. We can expect that future genomic studies will reveal differences.) See updates by Schmidt & Layberry 2016 (1)
and Pavulaan 2014 (2)
. In an email (25 Aug 2016), Dr. Wright mentions:
"There are probably several lucia clades throughout North America. Whether they are all good species, I doubt. To me the most distinctive ones are in Alaska and in the aforementioned area in southern New England, etc. It was good fortune that the serotina holotype (R.I.) is sympatric with such a distinctive lucia. This lucia lacks androconia and has evolved a new scale on the male forewing. Since it shares this trait with ladon, it might even be considered a northern subspecies of ladon. Let's wait to see what the genomic study unveils. (There are some Canadian specimens in that study too.)
The Ontario lucia is lucia Kirby and it is different than the aforementioned lucia in New England, etc. I have spent a lot of time reading and re-reading the journals of the naturalists who collected in Canada in the 1820s and subsequently gave their specimens to Kirby to describe. This has narrowed down the possible locations and host they found. Unfortunately, Kirby's specimens including types are lost. Fortunately we have a decent illustration."
• David Wright in an e-mail (22 Jan 2006) commented on Celastrina "A word about C. lucia ... this species can be highly polymorphic. In the far north it is rather small, dusky gray and varies little. However, from New England and the Maritimes south through the Appalachians to West Virginia, it is highly polymorphic in dorsal & ventral phenotypes."
• The name lucia was first used by Kirby (1837) for the small dusky individuals mentioned above. The species was described from Northern Canada, 54 degrees latititude at Cumberland House (located by various authors as either in Manitoba or Saskatchewan). Wright (1995) called this species "Northern Spring Azure" and the New England species as the "Eastern Spring Azure"; the implication being that these are different species. In scientific nomenclature, the Northern Spring Azure (or Boreal Spring Azure) is Celastrina lucia (Kirby) whereas the Eastern Spring Azure is Celastrina lucia Auctorum (essentially 'of authors, not Kirby'). Pratt et. al (1994) mapped the distribution of these 2 taxa in eastern NA, with lucia(Kiby) occurring north of a line through Lake Superior to extreme northern New Brunswick. Wright (1995) gave the distribution of Northern Spring Azures as "occur widely throughout the subarctic, from Alaska to Labrador and then south into the Canadian zone to Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, northern Michigan, Ontario and Quebec (excling extreme southern portions), northern Maine, northern New Brunswick, and Newfoundland."
More detailed comments on the nomenclature in Pavulaan & Wright (2005).
Kirby, W. 1837 in Richardson Fauna boreali-americana, or, The zoology of the northern parts of British America: containing descriptions of the objects of natural history collected on the late northern land expeditions, under command of Captain Sir John Franklin, R.N.
; pl. 3, figs. 8, 9
Pratt, G.F., D.M. Wright, and H. Pavulaan. 1994. The various taxa and hosts of the north American Celastrina
(Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 96(3): 566-578
Wright, D.M. 1995. The American Azures: Our Blue Heaven, American Butterflies. 3(1): 20-30.
Pavulaan, H. & D.M. Wright. 2005. Taxonomic Report
. 6(6):1-18. Includes "A short discussion of Celastrina lucia
" on page 14. (3)
Pavulaan, 2014. Taxonomic Report
. 7(7): 1–10. (2)
Schmidt & Layberry, 2016. ZooKeys
. 584: 135–164. (1)