Elfins: bog elfin (Callophrys lanoraieensis)

(Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae: Theclinae: Eumaeini)

Profile prepared by Matthew Shepherd

The bog elfin has one of the most restricted ranges of any butterfly in eastern North America. Although it is known from four New England States and four Canadian provinces, it is very rare (restricted to only one or a handful of sites in each state/province) in all areas except Maine. Since many of its acid spruce tamarack bog habitats are inaccessible, this butterfly is facing less threat from habitat loss due to development and agriculture. In the past, impoundment of bogs has led to flooding of black spruce stands. One potential threat in some bogs is peat extraction for the horticultural trade. However, spraying for forest pest (especially spruce budworm), blackfly, and mosquito control has almost certainly impacted populations.

red list profile

conservation status

Xerces Red List Status: Vulnerable
Other Rankings:

Canada – Species at Risk Act: None
Canada – provincial status: None
Mexico: N/A
USA – Endangered Species Act: None
USA – state status: MA: Threatened
NatureServe: G3
IUCN Red List: N/A

The bog elfin is rare throughout its range. It probably occurs at fewer than fifty sites, although it is difficult to spot and many suitable habitats are relatively inaccessible and there may be undiscovered populations. However, many seemingly suitable habitats have been surveyed and the bog elfin was absent. Only one state/province includes the bog elfin in its endangered species lists, Massachusetts, which lists it as Threatened.

description and taxonomic status

The bog elfin is a very small, drably colored, tailless butterfly. Its wingspan is 7/8 to 15/16 inch (22 to 24 mm). On the upperside, females are brown and males are more orange. The underside has an obscure or not clearly marked pattern, with a frosting of gray along the outer margin.

Callophrys lanoraieensis (Sheppard), 1934. This species has also been placed in the genus Incisalia Scudder, 1871.

life history

The preferred habitat is acid spruce-tamarack bogs. Even within seemingly suitable peat bogs, this butterfly will have a patchy distribution, usually associated with open water and stands of its hostplant, black spruce (Picea mariana). There is a single adult flight period from mid-May to early-June, during which time the adults generally perch on tree tops or fly around during sunny weather. Caterpillars usually only feed on new growth of the black spruce. Early instar caterpillars feed inside spruce needles, while later instars feed from the outside. Larvae probably mature by the beginning of July. Most of the year is spent as a pupa.

distribution

The bog elfin has one of the most restricted ranges of any butterfly in eastern North America. In the U.S. it is known from New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York, and in Canada from southern Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and eastern Ontario. It occurs in many bogs in Maine, but is very rare (restricted to only one or a handful of sites in each state/province) in the rest of its range.


Courtesy of Butterflies and Moths of North America, Big Sky Institute.

threats and conservation needs

Since many habitats are inaccessible, this butterfly is facing less threat from habitat loss due to development and agriculture. In the past, impoundment of bogs has led to flooding of black spruce stands. One potential threat in some bogs is peat extraction for the horticultural trade. However, spraying for forest pest (especially spruce budworm), blackfly, and mosquito control has almost certainly impacted populations. Even some apparently protected sites, such as New York’s Cicero Swamp State Natural Area, have been sprayed.

Conservation efforts should focus on maintaining the integrity of spruce-tamarack bog habitats and protecting them from pest control spraying, impoundment or drainage, and peat cutting.

Surveys of suitable habitats during the adult flight period would be good. A better understanding of the impacts of forest pest spraying would be valuable.

references

Opler, P. A., and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies East of the Great Plains. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Opler, P. A., and V. Malikul. 1992. A Field Guide to Eastern Butterflies. Peterson Field Guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, MA.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.

additional resources

Big Sky Institute, Butterflies and Moths of North America: bog elfin (Accessed 1/21/09)

Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, Species Bank; bog elfin (Accessed 5/9/05)

The Butterflies of Nova Scotia; Bog Elfin, Callophrys lanoraieensis (Accessed 5/9/05)

NatureServe Explorer (Accessed 5/9/05)

citation

Shepherd, M. D. 2005. Species Profile: Callophrys lanoraieensis. In Shepherd, M. D., D. M. Vaughan, and S. H. Black (Eds). Red List of Pollinator Insects of North America. CD-ROM Version 1 (May 2005). Portland, OR: The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

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