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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Western Pine Elfin - Callophrys eryphon

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status

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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 Range Descriptions


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).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 16

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
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).

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Citation for data on this website:
Western Pine Elfin — Callophrys eryphon.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from