Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Celastrina Mystery

The "Holly Blue" (Celastrina argiolus) which is my first time seeing this butterfly listed with this common name. I have always seen them listed as "Spring Azures".......interesting.

The genus Celastrina (Lycaenidae) is a mystery to me simply because they all look alike. There has been "speculation" (Idk whether this was a joke or not) on whether or not the entire Celastrina genus was one big mega species.

I mean Celastrina argiolus has fourteen different subspecies alone (See Wikipedia) as well as 6 different seasonal forms according to The Butterflies of North Amerca: A Natural History and Field Guide (James A. Scott). ← Look! I'm promoting! Go buy it now! But does this answer the question alone?
Is Celastrina one big mega species or not?

This is something that appears to already have an answer from what I'm understanding. For instance upon further research before typing up this entry I have realized that I could be seeing three different "species" of Celastrina!!

1. Holly Blue/Spring Azure (Celastrina argiolus)
2. Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta)
3. Holly Azure (Celastrina idella)

All 3 occur in the Eastern United States.....all 3 look like what I'm seeing in my park and around my house. All 3 are absolutely gorgeous. :P All 3 are proceeding to baffle my poor brains trying to figure them out. X_X

The reason I wrote 'species' as "species" is because C. ladon is/or was once considered to be a subspecies of C. argiolus. (See Wikipedia and do extra research) C. ladon doesn't occur over matter what it is (species subspecies) they're found elsewhere.

Confused yet? >:) Basically it's this: Celastrina in general is being questioned as it being one big insanely variable species. All my books are speaking of them as if the "mystery" has already been solved and I'm just questioning what's already known to "everyone else".

But my books give no mention on this at all. No mention of Celastrina being one big mega species. No mention of this even being considered. However......there is this:

Azures: Celastrina Tutt:

The Azures are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere and are all very similar. In North America this maybe our most poorly understood group. Before 1972 where it was shown that Celastrina nigra was a separate species we thought there was only one azure. Now we know that there are at least three, and very probably there are at least several other sibling host-plant specialists.

Our most commonest species Celastrina argiolus is quite variable geographically and seasonally. The caterpillars are tended by ants and the winter is spent in the chrysalis.

~ Peterson Field Guide: Eastern Butterflies Copyright infringement is not intended I needed to quote this for obvious reasons.....please don't sue. :P


At least partially. :P At least this implies that the "mystery" has indeed somewhat been solved. And I wonder if the three species that are mentioned are the three that I mentioned that occur in the Eastern United States. And then there's this on the ID of Celastrina idella quoted from Bugguide:

"Dr. David Wright (22 Jan '06) believes this could be a Holly Azure. First described in 1999 it is known from Aiken Co., SC. A Spring-flying species that resembles the Summer Azure. Summer Azures do have a Spring emergence in some localities - hence the confusion. Summer Azures are predominantly found in association with Black Cherry (Prunus serotina). Holly Azures are associated with Holly (Ilex spp.). Summer Azures perch with wings vertical above body; Holly Azures perch with wings partly spread at 30-45 degrees. This specimen has its wings partly spread.
Identification may come down to habitat: are there Holly species in the immediate area?
I am placing it as a Holly Azure so that photographers can be made aware of this species and hopefully get some more images in 2006."

- Tony-2 from Bugguide

There is Holly at that park and there might be Black Cherry too. Lord knows there's tons of trees/shrubs that bear black/dark dark purple berries at some point. Bugguide had also said that any species seen after July 1st may be Celastrina neglecta......that is of course assuming C. argiolus doesn't have a summer form (and I bet you it does). X_X

Someone shoot me! Cyren!! What would you know about this?!! Have you heard of the Celastrina? I will be doing further research into this. This obviously includes asking people. XD
OH FUN! Lepidoptera why must you be so confusing?! @_@

No comments: