Tag Archives: Celastrina ladon

Butterfly Blue

One of the teeniest butterflies you’ll see at this time of year is the Spring Azure, with a wing to wing span of less than one inch. Found in meadows, fields, gardens, and along the forest edge, the celestial blue flakes pause to drink nectar from clover, Quaker Ladies, crabapples, dandelions, and whatever tiny floret strikes her fancy.

You can find the Azures flitting about Crabapple blossoms.

Native wildflowers Quaker Ladies, also called Bluets, are an early season source of nectar for Azures.

If you’d like to attract these spring beauties to your garden, plant native flowering dogwood * (Cornus florida), blueberries, and viburnums; all three are caterpillar food plants of the beautiful Spring Azure Butterfly.

The female butterfly curls her abdomen around in a C-shape and deposits eggs amongst the yellow florets of the flowering dogwood. Pink or white, both are equally attractive to the Spring Azure.

Cornus florida ‘rubra’

*Only our native flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, is a caterpillar food plant for Azure butterflies. Don’t bother substituting the non-native Korean Dogwood, it won’t help the pollinators.

Native Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) at Willowdale Estate Butterfly Garden

Flowers of the Air

This beautiful Summer Azure  butterfly (Celastrina ladon ‘neglecta’), seen in our Gloucester garden, is ovipositing eggs amongst the buds of native meadowsweet (Spirea latifolia).

She tightly curls her abdomen in a c-shape and deposits her eggs amongst the unopened flower buds, while pausing every now and then to drink nectar from the opened florets. Just as many species of milkweed plants (Asclepias) are utilized by Monarch butterflies, to both take nectar from the florets and as a larval host plant for their caterpillars, the blossoms of meadowsweet provide nectar and the foliage is a food plant for the caterpillars of the Summer Azure butterfly.

Plant native meadowsweet near to where you will enjoy their delicately shaded rose-pink blossoms and the insects attracted. We grow ours along a sunny path and also grow a patch in the dappled shade cast by our pear trees. The plants sited in sun bear far more blossoms. The shrub grows fairly quickly, three to four feet high and equally as wide, and is easily divided. To create a tidy shape, prune lightly, in very early spring. Playing host to the azures, long season of blossoms, and lovely bright green and finely-cut foliage, meadowsweet is a fabulous native shrub for the ‘wild’ garden.