Note: This is really a complex comprised of several species or subspecies, including C. echo, C. lucia, and possibly others. Some authors refer to this species as Celastrina argiolus.
A widespread species, it can be found in Alaska, throughout Canada and the U.S., and south through Mexico and the mountains of Central America. It occurs throughout much of Idaho.
It occupies a variety of habitat types, including fields, roadsides, meadows, marshes, swamps, in or near woodlands, and sagebrush steppe.
Caterpillars feed on the flowers and fruits of a variety of plant species,
including dogwoods (Cornus spp.), buck brush (Ceanothus spp.),
meadowsweet (Spirea spp.), and viburnum (Viburnum spp.).
Adult: Butterflies use flower nectar food. They can often be seen puddling at mud or dung.
The caterpillar is equipped with a honey gland, also known as a dorsal nectary organ, which emits a sugary solution agreeable to ants. The ants feed on the solution and in turn protect the caterpillar from predators. Also for protection, the caterpillar bears a pair of everscible tubercles or tentacles on the eighth segment. These tubercles are usually housed within the body, but when the caterpillar feels threatened by the approach of a potential predator, they can be pushed out to release a chemical which mimics an ant alarm pheromone. This scent causes the ants to become frenzied and aggressive, and the potential predator takes leave or is eaten by the ants. Each caterpillar undergoes four stages of growth, or instars. There can be several generations of caterpillars each growing season, with the last generation pupating before overwintering in a physiological state called diapause. Adults generally fly from March to early July. The spring butterflies are one of the first species to emerge after winter.
Males actively patrol in search of receptive females, and may occasionally perch. Females lay eggs singly on the flower buds of host plants.
|Idaho Status:||Unprotected nongame species.|
|Global Rank:||Unranked; some species/subspecies have low population levels that are of concern.|
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