Butterfly: Wingspan: ¾ - 1¾ inches (2.2 - 3.5 cm). Closed wings are often medium gray. Markings are usually dark. Open wings (especially those of males) often display violet shading, which is visible in flight. Hindwing fringes are checkered. Typically smaller than Summer Azures.
ID Tip: Look for violet color in flight. Hindwing fringe is typically checkered.
Egg: Pale, flattened disc. Placed singly on or near flower buds.
Caterpillar: Variable in color: shades of green, brown, and pinkish-green. Pale, lateral bands on each back segment allow this caterpillar to blend perfectly with the "true" flowers at the center of a dogwood blossom.
Chrysalis: Light brown and pellet shaped. It is the overwintering stage.
Spring Azures are woodland butterflies, and they often spiral around their caterpillar host, Flowering Dogwood, a familiar component of many Alabama forests. Spring Azures are univoltine, producing only one generation each year, while their multi-brooded sister species, Summer Azure, produces several.
The common name, Spring Azure, is confusing because current research indicates that Summer Azures also produce a spring brood that is on the wing even before Spring Azures. Keep in mind that historic records only recognized one species: it was known as Spring Azure and considered to be multibrooded. Keep this in mind when viewing the county maps and flight charts below.
The decline of Flowering Dogwood populations that become evident in the 1980's is concerning. In Alabama, much remains to be learned about the actual distribution, abundance, and flight times of these little-understood butterflies that have been considered common in the past, but may not be now.
A dot on the county map indicates that there is at least one documented record of the species within that county. In some cases, a species may be common throughout the county, in others it may be found in only a specific habitat. The High Count information shows the highest numbers recorded for this species as well as when and where they occurred.
The sightings bar graphs depict the timing of flight(s) within each of three geographic regions. Place your cursor on a bar within the graph to see the number of individuals recorded during that period.
The abundance calendar displays the total number of individuals recorded within each week of the month. Both the graphs and the calendar are on based data collection that began in 2000.
The records analyzed here are only a beginning. As more data is collected, these maps and graphs will paint a more accurate picture of distribution and abundance in Alabama. Submit your sightings to email@example.com.
Sightings in the following counties: Baldwin, Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Chilton, Choctaw, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Conecuh, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Escambia, Franklin, Geneva, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lee, Madison, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Randolph, Russell, Shelby, St. Clair, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Washington, Wilcox, Winston
View county names by moving the mouse over a county or view a map with county names
In or near deciduous woodlands.
Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) is considerd a primary host throughout the range. In some areas, viburnams (Viburnam spp.) and Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) are also reported.
Flowering Dogwood is the only documented host in Alabama.
For more information about these plants, please visit the Alabama Plant Atlas using the links above.
Native dogwoods in the landscape provide larval food for both Spring and Summer Azures. Both species will also nectar on the tiny, true flowers.
Click on individual photos to view a larger version that includes photo credits, county, and date.
Photos with comments are indicated by a small, tan dot on the bottom right.