Butterflies of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance

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Once on a species account page, clicking on the "View PDF" link will show the flight data for that species, for each of the three regions of the state.
Other information, such as high counts and earliest/latest dates, can also been seen on the PDF page.

Related Species in LYCAENIDAE:
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Common NameHolly Azure by Sean McElhone => Jones Lake State Park 2006-03-11
[View PDF]
Click to enlarge
[Google Images]     BoA [Images ]
Scientific NameCelastrina idella
Link to BAMONA species account.
MapClick on a county for list of all database records for the species in that county.
DistributionDISTRIBUTION: Probably the Coastal Plain only, but the inner edge is not known; it may range to the Fall Line, if not beyond. It undoubtedly ranges inland to meet the range of the Spring Azure, but how much overlap in range there is we do not know. There is almost certainly no gap in the ranges of Spring and Holly, at least there is no place in NC that lacks some species of azure in the spring season.
AbundanceABUNDANCE: Common to locally abundant. Dozens can be seen in a day, and daily counts of 50 or more are not unusual in a few places.
FlightFLIGHT PERIOD: A single spring brood only; early March (rarely February) to late April, rarely to early May.
HabitatHABITAT: This species is found in a wide variety of wooded or semi-wooded sites, in the vicinity of hollies (Ilex spp.). These can be roads through swamps and pocosins, bottomlands, and maritime forests and thickets -- rarely in upland forests. I have found it most numerously along dirt roads through pocosins and swampy woods with much evergreen vegetation, particularly in Bladen County. The food plants of the Holly Azure are so widespread in Coastal Plain forests and thickets -- very few such places lack some species of evergreen holly -- that the observer might have difficulty associating the azures with hollies.
See also Habitat Account for Coastal Plain Wet Acidic Shrublands
PlantsFOOD AND NECTAR PLANTS: The primary foodplants are evergreen species of hollies, which may be American Holly (Ilex opaca), Yaupon Holly (I. vomitoria), and presumably gallberries (I. glabra and I. coriacea), among others. It has also been documented to use Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica) along the VA coast (Harry Pavulaan, pers. comm.). As with all azures, the species nectars on many flowers, as well as consuming moisture and minerals at mud and other damp soil.
CommentsCOMMENTS: In 1999, Wright and Pavulaan formally described this taxon as a species. They suggested the common name of Holly Azure in the paper. Paul Opler (pers. comm.) notes that an azure in England has the common name of Holly Azure and that C. idella should be named the Atlantic Holly Azure, to avoid confusion. Within the past several years, the Butterflies and Moths of North America [BAMONA] website and NatureServe have changed the common name to American Holly Azure. However, the Butterflies of America (2020) website uses the name Holly Azure, and we have now used that name starting with the 19th Aproximation.

This species is known to occur from NJ southward at least to the Carolinas. It looks quite a bit like the Summer Azure, in that it is quite pale gray to whitish below. It is a small to medium-sized azure and can even be reminiscent of Appalachian Azure, which is the largest species of azure. At any rate, it averages larger, and lighter blue above, than the Spring Azure (Pavulaan, pers. comm.).

NOTE: An azure photographed in the eastern Piedmont at Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Orange County, by Randy Emmitt, is thought to be a Holly Azure by Harry Pavulaan. If this were confirmed (probably not possible from a photo), then our concept of this species' range would need to be re-evaluated.
State RankS4
State Status
Global RankG4G5
Federal Status
Synonym"Celastrina sp.", Celastrina ladon (complex)
Other NameAmerican Holly Azure, Atlantic Holly Azure, Eastern [Spring] Azure, Holly [Spring] Azure, Spring Azure


Links to other butterfly galleries: [Cook] [Lynch] [Pippen] [Pugh]
Photo by: Jeff Pippen
Comment: Bladen Co.; 25 March 2007
Holly Azure - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Jeff Pippen
Comment: Bladen Co.; 25 March 2007
Holly Azure - Click to enlarge