Moss Elfin - Callophrys mossii
[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.
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).
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.
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).
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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Non-migratory. Move up to about 250 m during adult life span (Scott 1986).
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.
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).
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).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- Additional Sources of Information Related to "Insects"