Random Insect: Spring Azure

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Spring azure photographed 04/11/2016 at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina.

Found in woodlands throughout much of eastern North America, spring azures (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae: Celastrina ladon) are rather eye-catching little butterflies. Relatively small in size, it is easy to overlook these insects when they are resting. The simple black-and-white pattern on the undersides of their wings makes them look rather drab at first glance. Once they take flight, however, the bright blue coloration flickering on the backs of their flapping wings makes them immediately apparent.

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Spring azure photographed 04/11/2016 at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina.

Spring azure larvae feed on a variety of trees, shrubs, herbs and vines that flower in the spring. Like other butterfly species in their genus they have an interesting mutualism with ants known as myrmecophily. Azure caterpillars secrete a sugary substance known as honeydew, a byproduct of consuming more plant sap than they can digest. Honeydew attracts ants who then tend to the caterpillars as if they were dairy cattle. The ants get a steady food supply, and in turn they eagerly protect their little sugar-cows from predators. Together both insects help each other thrive.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Ecology, Entomology, Invertebrate Zoology, Organism Interactions, Random Insect and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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