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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Moss Elfin - Callophrys mossii


Global Rank: G4
State Rank: S4

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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.2-1.4 cm. Tailless. Fringes checked with white, edge of hindwing uneven. Uppersurface of male gray-brown, female variable light brown; undersurface two-toned with extensive white in postmedian line, hindwing usually reddish brown marginal border with grayish patch in bottom half, darker base inside of irregular pale to whitish postmedian line, hindwing marginal line usually partially to extensively white.

Phenology
One flight; mostly mid-March to May, (in California March at low elevation, May to June at higher elevation) (Scott 1986). Mainly March to April, February in Pacific lowlands to June in high mountains and Alberta (Glassberg 2001). March to late May in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain states (Scott and Scott 1978; Ferris and Brown 1981), late February to mid-July in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002), mid-February to late June in Oregon (Warren 2005), mid-April to late May in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by the two-toned undersurface with extensive white in postmedian line, the hindwing usually with reddish brown marginal border and grayish patch in bottom half, darker base inside of irregular pale to whitish postmedian line, hindwing marginal line usually partially to extensively white.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Range Comments
Southern British Columbia and Alberta south to southern California and southern Colorado, absent from inter-mountain areas of Great Basin and southwest (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); 1830 m to 2440 m elevation in Colorado and California (Scott and Scott 1978; Ferris and Brown 1981), sea level to at least 2134 m elevation in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002), 15 m to at least 1676 m elevation in Oregon (Warren 2005). In Montana, reported from at least 12 counties in the montane western 1/3 of the state (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993). Mainly locally rare but sometimes locally common (Glassberg 2001).

Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 1

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Relative Density

Recency

 

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



Migration
Non-migratory. Move up to about 250 m during adult life span (Scott 1986).

Habitat
Rocky slopes and canyons in foothills and mountains, balds, stony flats (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002). In Glacier National Park, Montana reported from xeric montane meadows and above treeline in alpine terrain (Debinski 1993), the latter habitat possibly an error.

Food Habits
Larval food plants include several species of Sedum (the primary host), as well as Dudleya and Parvisedum (Scott 1986, 1992; Pyle 2002; Warren 2005; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Arctostaphylos, Caltha, Cerastium, Cercis, Lesquerella, Lomatium, Prunus, Taraxacum) and mud (Pyle 2002; Warren 2005; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly primarily on the undersides of host plant leaves (Scott 1986, 1992). Develop from L1 instar to L4 instar and pupae in about 25-30 days (depending on temperature). Larvae build no nest, feed on leaves or flower heads, older larvae hide on host plant or in soil and debris at plant base, are tended by ants, overwinter as pupae (Scott 1979, 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males perch throughout the day on branch tips of shrubs in open terrain, atop precipice and in gullies or open swales, awaiting females (Scott 1975b, 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males live an average of 7 days as adult, females 8 days (Scott 1986).

References
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Citation for data on this website:
Moss Elfin — Callophrys mossii.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from