Summer Azure Butterfly: Identification, Life Cycle, and Behavior

Whether you’re a butterfly enthusiast or just love nature, this article will guide you through everything you need to know about the Summer Azure Butterfly.

From identification to life cycle, this piece has got you covered. Get ready to discover the amazing world of these small, vibrant creatures.

summer azure butterfly celastrina neglecta

Summer Azure – Celastrina neglecta Photo by Judy Gallagher CC BY 2.0

What is the Classification of Summer Azure Butterfly?

The Summer Azure Butterfly, scientifically referred to as Celastrina neglecta, is a well-known species in the world of butterflies.

It falls under the Kingdom Animalia because of its ability to move freely and to respond rapidly to its environment.

The detailed classification framework is as follows:

  • Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
  • Phylum: Arthropoda (Invertebrates)
  • Class: Insecta (Insects)
  • Order: Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
  • Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-Winged Butterflies)
  • Genus: Celastrina
  • Species: neglecta (Summer Azure)

This species stands out in the Lycaenidae family, a collection of small to medium-sized butterflies colloquially known as blues or gossamer-winged butterflies.

Notably, the Celastrina genus has a significant amount of diversity and color variation which includes the Summer Azure butterfly. Its vibrant colors and unique characteristics play an essential part in distinguishing it from other species.

Despite these distinguishing features, the Summer Azure finds its relatives in the Lycaenidae family, particularly the genus Celastrina. Thus, Celastrina neglecta, the Summer Azure Butterfly, finds its roots in a rich biological family teeming with color and diversity.

What is the Distribution of Summer Azure Butterfly?

The Summer Azure Butterfly, also known scientifically as Celastrina neglecta, is predominantly found in North America. This widespread butterfly ranges across a wide habitat, encompassing both the United States and Canada.

Their reach extends from the northernmost parts of Canada to as far south as Florida and Texas. Specifically, they inhabit regions from Newfoundland across southern Canada to eastern British Columbia, southwards to Florida and then westwards to Nebraska.

Contrary to what you might expect from their name, Summer Azure Butterflies show a significant presence not just in summers, but they also thrive during spring and early fall.

Typically, they favor open habitats and can often be found near sunny woodland edges and fields, where their host plants are present in plenty.

Their habitat inclinations make them adaptable to rural areas, city parks, and suburban gardens, making them a relatively common species across their geographical range.

  • Spring: Primarily present in southern regions
  • Summer: Spotted across the North and South America
  • Fall: Presence reduces significantly, mostly found in warmer southern regions

Interestingly, some populations are even known to migrate, moving northwards during early spring and then heading back south in the fall. Though, they are not considered long-distance migrants like the Monarch Butterfly.

Whether you live in the heart of a city, the rural countryside, or the chilly northern locales, keep an eye out for these beautiful creatures.

Their broad distribution makes the Summer Azure Butterfly a common guest in North American gardens.

What are the Main Characteristics of the Summer Azure Butterfly?

The Summer Azure Butterfly, scientifically known as Celastrina neglecta, is petite and charming, immediately capturing your attention.

Boasting a wingspan of just 1 to 1.25 inches (25-31 mm), it’s among the smallest of North American butterflies. Contrasting to its size, its beauty is immense, characterized by wings that shimmer with a captivating sky blue, hence the name ‘azure’.

Let’s delve deeper into the specifics:

  • Wings: This butterfly is famous for its charming wings. The upper side of male’s wings is vibrant blue with a narrow black outer edge, whereas, the females have lesser blue with wider black margins. Beware that the color can fade to white or pale blue in worn individuals.
  • Underwing: The underwing design is a crucial identifier. Summer azures flaunt an intricate pattern of dots and dashes. This mosaic style of marking is crisp in the spring species, yet becomes blurry as summer advances.
  • Size: Small as they may be, Summer Azure Butterflies are highly noticeable. Thanks to their brilliant coloration against greens of their environment. Their wings, when opened, span between 1 to 1.25 inches (25-31 mm).
  • Antennae: It possesses slender antennae with a slight club at the tip, typical of butterflies, which provides them excellent sense of smell to detect nectar and mates.

These splendid physical characteristics not only make the Summer Azure Butterfly a fascinating creature to study, but also intriguingly beautiful to observe.

But remember, don’t let their small size fool you. This species has more secrets to unveil as you delve into its life cycle and behavior.

How to Identify Male and Female Summer Azure Butterfly?

Identifying the sex of the Summer Azure butterfly, scientifically known as Celastrina neglecta can seem challenging at first, but with a keen eye, the task becomes easier.

The simplest way to differentiate between the sexes is by observing the wing colors and patterns.

Males are easy to spot with their bright, sky-blue upper wings. Their under wings are lighter, usually white with streaks of brown along the edges.

Females, on the other hand, exhibit slight color variations between their early and late broods.

The early brood females are similar to males, having bright blue upper wings that are lined with a narrow black border.

As for the late brood females, they can be distinguished by their duller, almost entirely gray-blue upper wings with a more prominent black border.

Look out also for their size. Typically, males are slightly smaller, with a wingspan of about 1 to 1.25 inches (2.5 to 3.2 cm) while females span about 1.25 to 1.5 inches (3.2 to 3.8 cm).

Despite these general guidelines, keep in mind that variations may occur due to environmental factors, and thus, exception may exist to every rule.

With time, and a bit of practice, you’ll find yourself quickly identifying male and female Summer Azure butterflies with relative ease.

What is the Mating Ritual of Summer Azure Butterfly?

Like many other butterfly species, the courtship of the Summer Azure Butterfly is a distinctive, captivating spectacle to behold.

The ritual typically begins with the male identifying a potential mate. He displays intense persistence, following her in a high-speed chase amidst the undergrowth.

When the female stops, the male struts around her, flaunting his vibrant blue coloring, a certain sign of a healthy, desirable mate.

The male Summer Azure Butterfly uses an extraordinary method to allure the female. He produces perfume-like pheromones from specialized scent scales on his wings, which he wafts towards the female during his fascinating courtship dance.

If the female is receptive to this performance, she allows mating to occur. During mating, the pair can remain paired for several hours in most instances.

Post mating, the female then embarks on her mission to find the perfect location to lay her fertilized eggs, preferably on a flower bud or a tender, young leaf.

This courtship behavior is not just unique but imperative for the survival of the species. Understanding these intricacies is crucial to unlock further insights into the life cycle, behavior, and conservation strategies for these beguiling creatures.

What Does the Caterpillar of the Summer Azure Butterfly Look Like?

Let’s focus on the fascinating subject of the Summer Azure Butterfly’s early life stage: the caterpillar. In terms of appearance, the Summer Azure caterpillar is uniquely identifiable.

They have a flattened, slug-like form, making them distinct among other species.

  • Size: The caterpillar will reach about half an inch (about 1.27 cm) in length at its mature stage.
  • Color: Typically, it boasts a vibrant green hue, which serves as an excellent camouflage when nestled among leafy greens.
  • Body: With a smooth, soft body and incredibly minute hairs that are virtually invisible, it’s easy to mistake them for a small leaf or stem on their host plant.

It’s also important to remark on the caterpillar’s behavior. During daylight hours, you’ll find these caterpillars belly-bound to their host’s leaf, staying incredibly still, blending into their surroundings.

But don’t let that fool you, as they come to life when the sun sets, moving and feeding vigorously. Spotting a Summer Azure caterpillar can be challenging due to its size and color.

However, knowing what to look for – its distinct shape, vibrant green color, and unique behavior – will help you to find one amid the leaves.

What is the Life Cycle of Summer Azure Butterfly?

The life cycle of the Summer Azure Butterfly, or Celastrina neglecta, exhibits a fascinating four stages of metamorphosis, typical of butterflies.

This journey begins as a minute egg laid on a suitable host plant.

  1. The Egg Stage: A female butterfly deposits her eggs in an orderly fashion, usually on the underside of the leaves of host plants. This stage lasts for about 1-2 weeks.
  2. The Caterpillar Stage: After hatching, the larvae or caterpillars emerge and begin feasting on the host plants. Their voracious eating habits enable them to grow rapidly. The caterpillar stage generally lasts for 2-4 weeks.
  3. The Pupa Stage: After reaching its full size, the caterpillar forms a protective shell around itself, commonly referred to as a chrysalis. Within this chrysalis, it undergoes an incredible transformation. This process, known as pupation, can take anywhere from 1-2 weeks.
  4. The Adult Stage: Emerging from the chrysalis is the fully formed, beautiful summer azure butterfly. In this stage, it will feed, mate and, if female, lay eggs to begin the cycle again.

So, this captivating cycle, from egg to adult, takes roughly 5-8 weeks in total. Remember, the timings may vary depending upon factors like species, temperature, and availability of food.

This gives a brief overview of the butterfly’s life cycle, providing a glimpse of the beauty of nature in action.

What Is the Average Life Expectancy of a Summer Azure Butterfly?

Let’s take a moment to focus on the lifespan of the Summer Azure butterfly. The average life expectancy of these delicate critters is approximately 7 to 10 days.

Unassuming in its complexity, this short span is action-packed from the day they emerge from their chrysalis state. Divide that by the fact that there are typically 3 generations of Summer Azures per year, and it’s clear why each day is precious.

As a caterpillar, the Summer Azure endures for about 2 weeks. This period primarily consists of feeding and growth, preparing for their transformation into a chrysalis.

Inside this protective casing, they will stay for another 2 weeks. Here, hidden from the world, they undergo a miraculous metamorphosis before emerging as adults.

Therefore, when you consider the stages of a Summer Azure’s life cycle, their true lifespan extends to about 6 weeks in total. Each stage is purpose-driven, preparing them for the next vital phase.

Thus, despite having a relatively short life expectancy, Summer Azure butterflies lead significant and purposeful lives.

What Does the Diet of a Summer Azure Butterfly Consist Of?

The diet of a Summer Azure Butterfly (Celastrina neglecta) predominantly revolves around nectar. Specifically, they are drawn towards a wide variety of flowering plants.

  • During their caterpillar stage, they consume the leaves of their host plants. This includes flower buds of Shrubby Dogwoods (Cornus spp.) and Viburnums (Viburnum spp.) particularly.
  • As mature adults, their diet shifts to nectar, and they prefer feeding from Thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), and Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).

These flexible feeding habits are largely necessary for the butterfly’s survival. They provide a blend of vital nutrients, ensuring the butterfly thrives during its short life span.

While the Summer Azure Butterfly is not especially picky with nectar sources, it does show a partiality towards certain plants.

Therefore, their diet isn’t just about satisfying hunger, it’s also about finding a food source that aids their reproduction and survival against predators.

Remember that the nectar serves as a primary food source for adults, providing them with much-needed energy during mating, migration, and for laying eggs.

Caterpillars, on the other hand, require leaves for their growth and development into adult butterflies.

Whether it’s nectar or leaves, the Summer Azure Butterfly indeed knows where to find the best food sources to keep itself going.

Which Plants Serve as the Primary Hosts for Summer Azure Butterfly?

To sustain their life cycle, Summer Azure butterflies, or Celastrina neglecta, rely heavily on certain host plants. These plants provide nourishment and are the sites where females lay their eggs.

So, what specifically are these plants? They are most commonly Flowering DogwoodNew Jersey Tea, and Meadowsweet.

  • Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida): This plant serves as a prime host because its buds attract female butterflies. The caterpillars also find the flowers highly palatable. These trees are typically found in forests and wetlands, making them readily available for the Azure butterflies.
  • New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus): The New Jersey Tea plant is another major host. Its leaves are a favorite food source for the caterpillars, providing the needed nutrients for them to grow. The plant usually blooms in summer, perfectly aligning with the butterfly’s breeding season.
  • Meadowsweet (Spiraea alba): The Meadowsweet plant adds benefit by blooming early in the spring, offering a suitable laying site for the first brood. Larvae can then feed on the leaves and buds throughout their development.

Over time, these host plants and the Summer Azure butterflies have developed a mutually beneficial relationship. The plants provide necessary shelter and sustenance to the butterfly, and in return, the butterfly aids in the plant’s pollination.

This beautiful co-existence highlights the intrinsic link between insects and their host plants, and the influence they have on each other’s survival and prosperity.

What are the Unique Mimicry Behaviors in Summer Azure Butterfly?

The Summer Azure Butterfly, like many butterfly species, has developed intriguing mimicry behaviors to protect itself from predators. A remarkable feature is their resemblance to leaves, including their size, color, and shape, providing effective camouflage.

This mimicry extends to the larvae stage, wherein the caterpillars mirror the green pigment of the plant they feed on.

This extraordinary adaptation allows the larvae to blend seamlessly with the foliage, diminishing their visibility to predators. The transformation from larvae to adult butterfly doesn’t negate the mimicry effect.

Adult Summer Azure Butterflies also emulate a leaf-like appearance, especially from a distance or when positioned with wings closed.

Their pale blue or chalky white wings, subtly trimmed with detailed black borders, mimic the leaf veins, further enhancing their camouflage.

These brilliant mimicry behaviors illustrate the adaptive strength of the Summer Azure Butterfly, showcasing its sheer persistency in ensuring its survival.

What Are the Main Threats to Summer Azure Butterfly Populations?

Despite their beauty, Summer Azure Butterflies face a range of threats. Habitat destruction is one of the most serious problems. When meadows, woodlands, and prairies are cleared for agriculture or urban development, these butterflies lose their homes, food sources, and egg-laying sites.

Another significant threat is the use of pesticides, which can kill these butterflies at all stages of their life cycle. Pesticides not only impact caterpillars and adults directly but can also harm the plants that these insects rely on.

Climate change is also a concern. Changes in temperature and precipitation can disrupt the butterfly’s life cycle. They might emerge too early or late for the availability of their host plants or mates.

Regrettably, invasive species, both plant and insect types, can crowd out the native plants that serve as the butterfly’s primary hosts. The introduction of non-native predators, pathogens and competitors can also pose a threat to Summer Azures.

The last major hazard lies in commercial butterfly farming and collection. While butterfly farming can help to educate the public about these essential creatures, it can also damage populations if not managed properly. Additionally, excessive butterfly collection could also contribute to their decline.

Summer Azure butterflies face numerous hazards. From habitat destruction and climate change to the introduction of invasive species and commercial activities, these beautiful creatures are in danger. Protecting them requires a multi-faceted approach that tackles all of these issues.


In essence, the Summer Azure Butterfly is a species full of wonder, from its life cycle to its unique behaviors.

Its existence is deeply intertwined with our ecosystem and is affected by its fluctuations. Do you have any experience with these butterflies?

If so, share your comments below.

Butterflies   Updated: July 24, 2023
avatar Welcome to Insectic, a blog to learn about insects and bugs. I'm Richard, and I've created this website to share my experience, knowledge, and passion with others.

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