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Cherry Gall Azure
Celastrina sp.

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Diagnosis: This species looks more like a Spring Azure than a Summer Azure but tends to be slightly paler, with more white dusting over the blue colour than in the Spring Azure. In most of its range only the "violacea" form is found, but in Canada both the "lucia" and "marginata" forms also occur. Wingspan 25 to 29 mm.

Subspecies: The Cherry Gall Azure has several "foodplant races" and these may be proposed as subspecies when the species is formally described.

Range: This species occurs from Nova Scotia and central and southern Ontario southward to New Jersey and West Virginia (Wright, 1995).

Similar Species: See discussion under the Spring Azure (C. ladon).

Early Stages: These are similar to those of the Spring Azure, except that the overwintering pupae emerge in the late spring when the flight of the Spring Azure is ending but before the Summer Azure appears. Few suitable flowering shrubs are in blossom when the Cherry Gall Azure appears, so the larvae resort to feeding on mite galls on cherry leaves, mostly those on Black and Choke Cherry (Prunus serotina and P. virginiana) in Canada. In Nova Scotia they have been reared on Bristly Sarsaparilla (Aralia hispida) and in other areas on Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago).

Abundance: Little data are available on the abundance of the Cherry Gall Azure as yet.

Flight Season: Adults are on the wing from mid-May until mid-June in eastern Ontario. Our records from the Maritime Provinces are from late June and early July. There is one generation per year.

Habits: Adults should be sought in areas where cherry leaves are infested with mite galls after the flight of Spring Azures has waned.

Remarks: The status of this "new species" remains uncertain and research continues. It may simply prove to be a late-season "foodplant race" of the Spring Azure, but much more research is required. It is difficult to recognize this "species" in museum collections (unless the specimens are reared), because the flight season of Spring and Cherry Gall Azures can vary so much from area to area and from year to year. We expect much new information to come to light once naturalists are aware of this little-known species.

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.

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