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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Thicket Hairstreak - Callophrys spinetorum

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.4-1.5 cm. Double-tailed (posterior tail longer, both white-tipped), fringes white. Upperside steel-blue with faint iridescent sheen, broad black borders; underside reddish brown, forewing with a white cell-end bar, hindwing with a continuous white postmedian band edged inwardly with black and forming a W near tails, usually with a series of small black submarginal points or chevrons with orange caps and blue bottoms.

One flight, mostly June northward; several flights, March to August southward (Scott 1986). May to July in one flight areas, March to September in two flight areas (Glassberg 2001). Early May to late July in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978), late April to late August in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002), early May to mid-August in Oregon (Warren 2005), late April to mid-July in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by combination of reddish-brown undersurface combined with steel-blue uppersurface, presence of tails, undersurface of hindwing with a white postmedian band forming a W near tails, usually with a series of small black submarginal points or chevrons with orange caps and blue bottoms.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Range Comments
Southern British Columbia and Alberta south to northern Baja California and northern Sierra Madre of western Mexico, east to eastern Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, and western Texas (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); 1830 m to 3050 m elevation in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), 1890 m to 3353 m elevation in Colorado (Brown 1957; Shields 1965; Scott and Scott 1978), 427 m to at least 2134 m elevation in Oregon (Warren 2005), up to 1000 m elevation in British Columbia (Threatful 1988; Guppy and Shepard 2001). In Montana, 853 m to 2355 m elevation in the mountainous western 1/3 of the state (Shields 1965; Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database). Uncommon to common in most of the Rocky Mountains, rare west of the Rockies and in Alberta (Glassberg 2001).

Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 1

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Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)


Foothill and montane conifer forest, low to high elevation forest clearings, roadsides (Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002). In Glacier National Park, Montana reported from montane wet meadows (Debinski 1993); other Montana localities include several in montane mixed-conifer forest (Shields 1965).

Food Habits
Larval food plants include several species of Arceuthobium, which are parasitic on species of Pinaceae (Shields 1965; Scott and Scott 1978; Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Pyle 2002; Warren 2005). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Achillea, Allium, Anaphalis, Antennaria, Arctostaphylos, Asclepias, Berberis, Ceanothus, Cymopterus, Erigeron, Eriodictyon, Eriogonum, Fragaria, Helenium, Iris, Lomatium, Lupinus, Melilotus, Polygonum, Potentilla, Prunus, Pseudocymopterus, Rhus, Ribes, Sedum, Taraxacum, Salix, Sambucus, Senecio, Solidago, Spraguea) and mud (Shields 1965; James and Nunnallee 2011; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly in deep crevices on host plant (Scott 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011). Eggs hatch in about 7 days (depending on temperature), develop from L1 instar to L4 instar and pupate in about 29 days. Pupae overwinter in trees; some adults may eclose (emerge from pupae) in about 21 days without overwintering as pupae (Scott 1979; Pyle 2002; James and Nunnallee 2011). Larvae solitary, feed on host buds and fruiting heads, may be tended by ants (Formica pilicornis in captivity), build no nests (Scott 1986; Ballmer and Pratt 1991; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males perch throughout the day, especially in the crowns of hilltop trees, to await females (Scott 1975b, 1986).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Ballmer, G.R. and G.F. Pratt. 1991. Quantification of ant attendance (myrmecophily) of lycaenid larvae. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 30(1-2): 95-112.
    • Brown, F.M. 1957. Colorado Butterflies. Proceedings; Numbers Three through Seven. Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver, Co.
    • Debinski, D. 1993. Butterflies of Glacier National Park, Montana. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural History, the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. No. 159: 1-13.
    • Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown (eds). 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountains. Univ. of Oklahoma Press. Norman. 442 pp.
    • Glassberg, J. 2001. Butterflies through Binoculars: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Western North America. Oxford University Press.
    • Guppy, C.S. and J.H. Shepard. 2001. Butterflies of British Columbia: including western Alberta, southern Yukon, the Alaska Panhandle, Washington, northern Oregon, northern Idaho, northwestern Montana. UBC Press (Vancouver, BC) and Royal British Columbia Museum (Victoria, BC). 414 pp.
    • James, D.G. and D. Nunnallee. 2011. Life histories of Cascadia butterflies. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press. 447 p.
    • Kohler, S. 1980. Checklist of Montana Butterflies (Rhopalocera). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 34(1): 1-19.
    • Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright. 1999. A field guide to western butterflies. Second edition. Peterson Field Guides. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 540 pp.
    • Pyle, R.M. 2002. The butterflies of Cascadia: a field guide to all the species of Washington, Oregon, and surrounding territories. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington. 420 pp.
    • Scott, J.A. 1975b. Mate-locating behavior of western North American butterflies. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 14:1-40.
    • Scott, J.A. 1979. Hibernal diapause of North American Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 18(3): 171-200.
    • Scott, J.A. 1986. The butterflies of North America: a natural history and field guide. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
    • Scott, J.A. 2014. Lepidoptera of North America 13. Flower visitation by Colorado butterflies (40,615 records) with a review of the literature on pollination of Colorado plants and butterfly attraction (Lepidoptera: Hersperioidea and Papilionoidea). Contributions of the C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthopod Diversity. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University. 190 p.
    • Scott, J.A. and G.R. Scott. 1978. Ecology and distribution of the butterflies of southern central Colorado. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 17(2): 73-128.
    • Shields, O. 1965. Callophrys (Mitoura) spinetorum and C. (M.) johnsoni: their known range, habits, variation, and history. Journal of Research on the Lepidopters 4(4): 233-250.
    • Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies: including adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Unpubl. Report. Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado 275 pp.
    • Threatful, D.L. 1988. A list of the butterflies and skippers of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks, British Columbia, Canada (Lepidoptera). Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 27(3-4): 213-221.
    • Warren, A.D. 2005. Lepidoptera of North America 6: Butterflies of Oregon, their taxonomy, distribution, and biology. Contributions of the C. P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Colorado State University. Fort Collins, Colorado. 406 pp.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Allen, T.J., J.P. Brock, and J. Glassberg. 2005. Caterpillars in the field and garden: a field guide to the butterfly caterpillars of North America. Oxford University Press.
    • Brock, J.P. and K. Kaufman. 2003. Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY 284 pp.
    • Layberry, R.A., P.W. Hall, and J.D. LaFontaine. 1998. The Butterflies of Canada. University of Toronto Press. 280 pp. + color plates.
    • McLeod, L. 2006. An aberration of Chrysoritis pan (Pennington, 1962) (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Metamorphosis : Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society of Africa. 17, 50.
    • Opler, P.A., K. Lotts, and T. Naberhaus, coordinators. 2010. Butterflies and moths of North America. Big Sky Institute, Bozeman, MT. Available at: (Accessed 15 June 2015).
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Thicket Hairstreak — Callophrys spinetorum.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from