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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Western Pine Elfin - Callophrys eryphon

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 1.3-1.5 cm. Lacks tail; fringes checkered; sexes similar. Uppersurface chocolate-brown. Undersurface with darker inner half, lighter outer half and strikingly banded with rich reddish-brown and black, forewing with a single dark bar across discal cell; hindwing with sharply pointed dark chevrons in a zigzag submarginal band.

One flight; May to June at low elevation, June to mid-July at high elevation, mostly May in the north (Scott 1986). May to early July (Glassberg 2001). May to early June in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), late April to early July in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978), late March to late August in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002), early April to mid-July in Oregon (Warren 2005), late April to early June in British Columbia (Threatful 1988; Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best distinguished by the undersurface strikingly banded with rich reddish-brown and black; forewing undersurface with a single dark bar across discal cell, hindwing with sharply pointed dark chevrons in a zigzag submarginal band.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Range Comments
Central British Columbia and Alberta south throughout western US to southern California, southern Arizona, and southern New Mexico, east to central Nebraska and in the north to central Quebec, northern Michigan and Maine (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); to 2745 m elevation in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), 1829 m to 3048 m elevation in Colorado (Brown 1957; Scott and Scott 1978), sea level to at least 2134 m elevation in Oregon (Warren 2005), 456 m to 914 m elevation in southeastern British Columbia (Threatful 1988). In Montana, reported from across the state except the northeastern 1/6, to at least 1524 m elevation (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database; Butterflies and Moths of North America database). Mainly common but rare to uncommon at the southern edges (Glassberg 2001).

Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 14

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Relative Density



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


Clearings, openings, roadsides, streamsides in coniferous forest, particularly pine woodlands, urban and suburban pine plantings (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Powell 1997; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002). In Glacier National Park, Montana reported from montane xeric and mesic meadows (Debinski 1993); in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem reported especially from the margins of lodgepole pine stands (Debinski and Pritchard 2002).

Food Habits
Larval food plants include many species of conifers, including Larix, Picea, Pinus (several species), Pseudotsuga, Thuja, Tsuga (Scott 1986, 1992; Powell 1995; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002; Warren 2005; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Achillea, Antennaria, Arctostaphylos, Asclepias, Barbarea, Berberis, Calyptridium, Conium, Cryptantha, Dicentra, Eriogonum, Euphorbia, Harbouria, Hymenopappus, Hymenoxys, Lupinus, Prunus, Rhamnus, Rhus, Rosa, Rubus, Salix, Sedum, Senecio, Spiraea, Taraxacum, Thlaspi, Townsendia) and mud (Hardy 1959; Debinski and Pritchard 2002; Pyle 2002; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly on host plant at base of young needles (Hardy 1959; Scott 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011). Eggs hatch in 5-10 days (depending on temperature), develop from L1 instar to L4 instar and pupae in 23-39 days (depending on temperature). Pupae overwinter on or off host plant; adults eclose (emerge from pupae) in about 7-10 days after exposure to spring temperatures (Hardy 1959; James and Nunnallee 2011). Larvae feed on young needles and male catkins, are solitary, build no nest, dipause (overwinter) as pupae (Scott 1979, 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males perch throughout the day, usually < 2 m above ground on the tips of branches or sides of small conifer trees, awaiting passing females (Scott 1975b, 1986; Warren 2005).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • 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.
    • Debinski, D.M. and J.A. Pritchard. 2002. A field guide to the butterflies of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Lanham, MD: Roberts Rinehart Publishers. 107 p.
    • 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.
    • Hardy, G.A. 1959. On the life history of Incisalia eryphon (Lycaenidae) on southern Vancouver Island. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 13:70.
    • 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.
    • Powell, J.A. 1997. Callophrys eryphon (Lycaenidae) colonizes urban and suburban San Francisco Bay area, California, using planted Monterey pine. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 51:176-179.
    • 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. 1992. Hostplant records for butterflies and skippers (mostly from Colorado) 1959-1992, with new life histories and notes on oviposition, immatures, and ecology. Papilio new series #6. 185 p.
    • 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.
    • 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
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    • 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.
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Western Pine Elfin — Callophrys eryphon.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from